Meditation is strength training for your brain. We all want to be more stress resilient, to be able to respond rather than react, to offer compassion and patience toward ourselves and others so that we have more fulfilling lives and relationships. However, if we let our monkey mind run amuck, and forget to weed our virtual ‘brain garden’ by paying attention to how we think and perceive the world around us, we get trapped in old patterns or neural grooves that have formed over time. If you wish to experience change and see new results in your physical body, you have to practice consistently and intentionally. It works the same with awareness and meditation.
There are so many forms of meditation to explore, but mindfulness meditation has been (and continues to be) absolutely essential for me on this path. Without the ability to pay attention on purpose to the present moment just as it is with compassionate, non-judging awareness, I probably would have jumped off ‘the ride’ long ago.
You can practice mindfulness meditation in a formal way where you consciously set aside time to sit, stand, walk, eat, move mindfully AND you can experience mindfulness informally by moving about the day using your senses to notice the subtle experiences that are happening in the moment.
With time dedicated to a formal practice of meditation, you become more awake to how any task, conversation, or experience is an informal opportunity to practice mindfulness so that the whirlwind of life begins to slow just a bit. You begin to see the spaces or gaps where you can respond rather than react, and you learn to ride the waves of life knowing that all things come and go, just like the breath.
As you gather information in your daily life through your informal practice, you begin to savor the quiet time you set aside just to formally practice paying attention on purpose to the simplicity of this breath — of this step — of this bite.
Many clients who come to me say how frustrated they are with meditation because they can’t get their minds to stop, but that is NOT the intention of mindfulness meditation. You are not necessarily trying to feel any particular way or reach any specific goal, rather you get to practice being the non-attached Observer of yourself, of the mind, of the breath, of the body, of the emotions that arise and pass. You become a witness to what you do, how you react to X or Y, to what feelings come up within a situation. You become aware of what actually IS present in the moment. You may not change anything other than your awareness of it at first, but this shift alone offers you a new perspective that brings in new possibilities.
A client might say, “During my formal sitting practice today, I noticed how my mind was spinning with so many different kinds of thoughts. Last time I sat, I had many thoughts but they were the same thought over and over. I didn’t realize there was a difference. In the past, I just would have said I had a lot of thoughts.” This awareness is very insightful because the client begins to see how the content or the quality of the thoughts change, so each time there is potential for a new and different experience.
If you would like to experience a mindfulness meditation practice…
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