Friday, February 17, 2012

Mindfulness

How many of us consciously cultivate a sense of connection, calm and well being so that our day to day lives can have more meaning and ease? When we practice mindfulness we develop greater awareness, clarity and acceptance. A non-judgmental attitude can diffuse the tension in both ourselves and others.

Mindfulness is:
  1. A capacity to be present, to be fully awake to life - Relationships become richer, connections more powerful as we actually listen and learn to speak from our direct experience. 
  2. The art of paying attention, of listening to your heart. Rather than withdrawing from the world, meditation can help you enjoy it more fully, effectively and peacefully. 
  3. Being in the present moment without judgment. 
  4. A way of affecting and nurturing deep states of relaxation and of reducing stress - The practice of mindfulness brings a deep stillness that is profoundly relaxing and healing. 
  5. An ability to be less reactive. 
  6. A method for increasing concentration and focus in daily life
Instructions for Mindfulness Meditation Practice

The mindfulness meditation technique is a simple meditation procedure that can create a deep state of relaxation in your mind and body. As the mind quiets down, but remains awake, you will experience deeper, more silent levels of awareness.

Start by sitting or laying down comfortably in a quiet place where you will have a minimum amount of disturbance. Select a quiet time and place. Close your eyes gently and begin by bringing a full, present attention to whatever you feel within you and around you. Let your mind be spacious and your heart be kind and soft. Breathe normally, naturally, and gently allow your awareness to be on your breathing. Simply observe your breath, trying not to control it or alter it in any conscious way.

As you observe your breath, you may notice that it changes of its own accord. It may vary in speed, rhythm or depth; and there may even be occasion when your breath seems to stop for a time. Whatever happens to your breathing, innocently observe it without trying to cause or initiate any changes.

As you sit, feel the sensations of your body. Then notice what sounds and feelings, thoughts and expectations are present. Allow them all to come and go, to rise and fall like the waves of the ocean. Be aware of the waves and rest seated in the midst of them.

Allow yourself to become more and more still.

You may find that at times your attention drifts away from your breath and you are thinking about other things or listening to noises outside. Whenever you notice that you're not observing your breath, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. If during the meditation, you notice that you are focusing on some feeling or mood or expectation, treat this as you would any other thought and gently bring your attention back to your breathing.

Allow yourself to become more and more still.

In the center of all these waves, feel your breathing, your life-breath. Let your attention feel the in-and-out breathing wherever you notice it, as coolness or tingling in the nose or throat, as a rising and falling of your chest or abdomen. Relax and softly rest your attention on each breath, feeling the movement in a steady easy way.

Let the breath breathe itself in any rhythm, long or short, soft or deep. As you feel each breath, concentrate and settle into movement. Let all other sounds and sensations, thoughts and feelings continue to come and go like waves in the background.

After a few breaths, your attention may be carried away by one of the waves of thoughts or memories, by body sensations or sounds. Whenever you notice you have been carried away for a time, acknowledge the wave that has done so by softly giving it a name such as "planning," "remembering," "itching," "restless." Then let it pass and gently return to the breath. Some waves will take a long time to pass, others will be short. Certain thoughts or feelings will be painful, others will be pleasurable. Whatever they are, let them be.

At some sittings you will be able to return to your breath easily. At other times in your meditation you will mostly be aware of body sensations or of plans or thoughts.

Either way is fine. No matter what you experience, be aware of it, let it come and go, and rest at ease in the midst of it all.

After you have sat for twenty or thirty minutes in this way, open your eyes and look around you before you get up. Then as you move try to allow the same spirit of awareness to go with you into the activities of your day.

The art of meditation is simple but not always easy. It thrives on practice and a kind and spacious heart. If you do this simple practice of sitting with awareness every day, you will gradually grow in centeredness and understanding.

Be well,
gina

1 comment:

Claire Donovan said...

this was much needed reading for me. Ive found that meditating on my acupressure mat really helps with the pain