Mindfulness Meditation - Healing Stress
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
In the same way that a fast from food can provide rest and healing for the body, meditation is a fast for the mind. Mindfulness is a non-religious technique practiced by people from many different faiths. It provides valuable space in which withdraw from often demanding external interaction.
Mindfulness meditation is a mind training technique, a practical and effective method of coming more into the present moment, and becoming more aware of our unhelpful habitual patterns. Then we have the power to choose more caring ways of behaving towards others and ourselves. Like quality food is a gift for your body, meditation is a gift to your mind.
Meditation is too hard!
Some people say, I’ve tried to meditate, but I wasn’t very good at it… my mind was full of busy thoughts, and I couldn’t calm down at all. This is natural and a usual condition of the human mind. Like anything worth practicing, an instrument, a language, a new skill, meditation is a process. The most helpful attitude is patience.
Why practise meditation?
1) Mindfulness meditation is an effective technique for simultaneously improving concentration and increasing relaxation.
2) With time and practice it enables you to be more aware of the way in which you relate to yourself and the world.
3) You give yourself time to return to balance, by refocusing the attention from the thinking analysing mind, towards the centering physical experience of breathing.
4) With regular meditation the benefits naturally seep into our daily lives. There is growing ease, spaciousness and understanding.
5) Mindfulness meditation is a practical method for creating more ‘space’ and ease, in the body and mind, by bringing the awareness to rest on the breath.
6) The physical anchor of the breathing gives us a place to return to when the mind becomes distracted and wanders to ‘busy’ thoughts of the past or future, emotions and physical sensations.
What happens when we practise?
As we become aware of the mental chatter, we are given a choice; the choice of whether to follow the less beneficial mental rollercoasters, or to let it go. This is a constant process, however one that becomes easier with time, as we begin to recognize the more persistent visitors, see them with a little more space around them, and let them go on the out-breath. As my teacher said, open the front and back doors, so they can come and go, but don’t invite them in for tea. With regular meditation, we have the opportunity to experience thoughts and feelings less personally, and to observe them more as patterns. This is a very empowering process.
Sometimes the experiences of the mind and sensations in the body can feel very powerful, for example anger, sadness, dullness, confusion. With all these experiences it is vital that we give ourselves the space to just sit with it and observe all the ‘textures’ of the feeling, with the help of our anchor point, the breath, without following the old ‘storyline’, the cracked record.
Awareness is the first and essential step to freedom from unwanted stress.