Mind Over Matter – The practice of mindfulness meditation

‘As I began 2012 with the glorious birth of my first grandson, it suddenly dawned on me that all too often as we go through life, we lose the aliveness that glows in the face of a healthy infant’.

It seems the wonders of our early childhood dimly fade as we conform to the standards that we think the world expects of us. We learn to hide our feelings of excitement and the joy of simple pleasures, first from others and then from ourselves.

We’re bombarded and enticed by commercials and adverts for things that promise to make us feel happy and fulfilled and as we accumulate more and more, we need more. Soon we forget the simple innocence of life to the point where even the basic awareness of the breath is gone.

Unfortunately anxieties take over, drama occupies our attention, we numb ourselves with TV, web-surfing, social media etc. We tell ourselves that we’re just avoiding boredom. But beneath the surface there is agitation, restlessness, sadness, emptiness, fears and joy.

We seem to have lost touch with what is real and eternal inside us. What was once our perfect place of peace within us has now become a mystery. We’re afraid to look inside ourselves, for fear that what has been suppressed will overwhelm us. And so we do not linger in the awareness of the inner Self. 

Perhaps we need to embrace the prospect that if we settle the mind and find ‘stillness’ we can achieve peace from within and become more fulfilled in our daily life.

The concept of ‘Mindfulness’ is a state of present awareness. A relaxed state of mind, in which we are conscious of our experiences, these include sensations, thoughts, feelings, breathing, and surroundings, all with an attitude of non-resistance, peace and acceptance.

‘Mindfulness meditation’ is a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself.

Finding the stillness in a body free of tension is where we ultimately want to be! There are many ways to learn mindful meditation through the Internet, books, Apps or personal teacher and as a self-help therapy it is a fantastic tool to quiet the mind. Research suggests that ‘mindfulness meditation’ may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function. 

My advice to anyone who wants to learn is to meditate frequently but for short periods of time—ten or fifteen minutes. If you force it, the practice can take on too much of a personality, and training the mind should be very, very simple. So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, during that time you are really working with the mind.

 

Follow a simple practice to start with, sitting in an upright chair with your back straight, close your eyes softly and bring your mind to the present moment, focusing on your breathing.

  1. Notice the sensation of air as you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, feel your belly rise and fall.
  2. Concentrate on slowing the breathing and making the out breath longer than the in breath. Do this by counting in for 4 and out for 6.
  3. Watch every thought come and go, whether it is a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind let them drift in and out, don’t ignore or suppress them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
  4. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.
  5. As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.

The mind is the most powerful tool in the universe. And for most of us, it is the master. So the secret is: If you can be gentle with yourself when practicing your meditation technique. Then, guess what?… You have already arrived at a place where few have been before!

Annie Moore MCThA, RCCA, ITHMA For free advice or a consultation contact info@vidatherapy.com,                   T: 020 8614 1199, www.vidatherapy.com

 

 

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