WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
We cannot control the weather, but we can learn to adapt to it. We can put a coat on for instance, or take a brolly out with us, but we cannot stop the wind or rain, and it would be foolish to try.
Regardless of what we do, however, the storm will pass.
Our thoughts and feelings are like the weather, they come and they go. Our minds will do what our minds will do.
We cannot control or stop them, but we can learn to react to them differently. We can learn to prepare well in some instances, so that we can change the course of our thoughts and feelings, and simply let go of other instances and decide not to get caught up in a maelstrom of worries and anxieties about things we cannot change.
If we give up the futile struggle to try and stop or control it, the storm of our thoughts and feelings will pass.
Sometimes in life, it feels like we’re being carried away downstream in a fast river, struggling to stay afloat amongst all the mud, bulrushes, sticks and stones.
Imagine that the river is your inner experience – your flow of conscious experience, moment by moment.
You can see yourself as being IN the river, flowing downstream.
You can see yourself as standing ON the riverbank, observing your thoughts, events, sensations and feelings floating by.
You might even watch your individual thoughts and feelings as they pass – perhaps observing a thought floating on a leaf, observing a sensation as a log or whatever.
In standing on the riverbank, you are no longer caught up in the flurry of activity of being in the river - you can quietly observe the river flowing by. with a sense of peace in your heart.
You have a choice - jump in the river or stand on the riverbank. Which will you choose today?
Whatever the weather, or whatever happens on the surface of the mountain – the mountain stands firm, strong, grounded, permanent.
Clouds, rain, hail and snow....strong winds and sunny spells....all will pass over the surface of the mountain as day turns to night and the seasons change.
The mountain simply IS. It withstands all the beauty, trials and tribulations that the weather throws at it.
We can be like that mountain, observing the flurry of thoughts, feelings and sensations; knowing and experiencing our inner stillness.
THE WALK OF LIFE - STAYING IN THE MOMENT
When we are walking along the footpath, we tend to look just ahead of us most of the time, with occasional glances behind us and far ahead.
We look behind as we need to know of anything approaching from behind or to see where we have come from, and look far ahead to make sure we are heading in the right direction in order to get to where we want to go.
Most of the time though, we need to know where we are putting our feet.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of being in the present moment – existing in the here and now.
If you think about it, all existence is the present moment – there is no other existence!
Regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to enhance physical and mental wellbeing -so get into a habit of mindfulness practice daily if you can.
Begin to give yourself some space in your daily routine to practise mindfulness techniques.
You can begin to give space to your pains, your concerns. This means not fighting them, not trying to avoid them and not running away or subduing them. Just accepting them as part of the great tapestry of your life. In this way you can learn to live a full life with any issues or medical conditions that you may have- and be the best that you can be
SIT COMFORTABLY, FEET FLAT ON THE FLOOR AND SOFTEN YOUR GAZE
Start with simply sitting comfortably and closing your eyes.
Be aware of the feel of your body resting on the chair, have your arms relaxed, hands gently resting on the chair arms or in your lap.
Now bring your attention to your breath. There's no need to change your breathing in any way, just focus on breathing in and breathing out.
Be aware of how the breath feels as you breathe in - the sense of your breath moving into your body through your nostrils and down deep into your lungs.
As you breathe out, be aware of how the breath feels as it leaves your body. Be aware of the movements in your body as you gently breathe in....and breathe out. You may notice the soft rise and fall of your chest or your belly, the sense of relaxation as you exhale.
If you become aware that your mind is having a thought, just let the thought pass without chasing it or getting caught up in it at all.
Just stay focused on your breath. You breath is like an anchor in a storm.
Breathe gently and slowly with full attention for a couple of minutes.
Now gently bring your focus out again - out into the room beyond your body, being aware of the sounds and scents of the world outside of your body.
When you are ready, open your eyes and take this experience of relaxation into your day