I remember when I was in my twenties and starting out on my personal journey of self discovery, I met an ex Pan Am Captain who had a wrist watch with the words NOW repeated all around the face of the watch in place of the numbers. It was a great reminder of the importance of staying present with what is.
In this second blog on improving your relationship with yourselves and your environment, I want to discuss mindfulness and give you a great meditation to use on a daily basis. Aside from being an essential aspect of living with Reiki and giving a Reiki treatment, mindfulness extends to every waking moment of your life when you live with awareness of the NOW.
When a client comes to see me and talks about the problems they are having, it is nearly always a result of the way they are thinking and where in particular they are choosing to focus their mind. Thoughts have an incredible capacity to arise out of nowhere and there’s nothing a random thought likes better than to question a present moment experience and distract us away from it. The mind is as adept at time travel as Dr Who and is as comfortable filling in details of various future scenarios as it is wallowing and reliving trauma from the past. The problem of course is the physical body is stuck in the present and experiencing fully the emotions of wherever the mind is presently focused as if it were actually there. An undisciplined mind will generally wander down well trodden habitual pathways that re enforce learnt responses to situations and patterned behaviour. Therefore when it comes to thoughts it is important to take the role of the shepherd and ensure the thoughts like sheep are herded and guided in a direction that works for you.
It is called the ‘present’ moment because it is where you can find the gifts of your life. When we are mindful, we show up for our lives and don’t miss them being distracted or in wishing for things to be different. In order to bring the mind home and become grounded and centred in the NOW, we require something to focus upon that is fully present. Fortunately as I said earlier, our body is always in the NOW and so becoming mindful of how it goes about functioning is a great place to start.
Mindfulness means to pay precise, non-judgmental attention to aspects of our experience as it arises. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences we find difficult, we practice being with them. This works with pleasant experiences as well because often we have a hard time staying present with happiness and turn it into something more familiar, like worrying that it won’t last or trying to keep it from fading away.
A Mindful Meditation
Stage 1. Body (This includes your environment)
- Begin by ensuring you are in a place where you will be able to close your eyes and relax without being disturbed. Before you close your eyes get a sense of your body and a sense of where you are. Be aware of what you are sitting or lying on, the support, the texture, the comfort, the temperature. Notice what you can see, the direction you are looking, the quality of light, notice what you notice. Focus on the sensations in your body as you interact with your environment, the movement of each breath, the temperature of the air you are breathing in and out, the sound of breathing, your heart beating, your feet down there on the floor, your hands resting there. Feel the texture of your clothes and the floor if you are in contact with it. Notice everything you can. Slowly close your eyes and explore what it is like to be inside yourself. compare being inside to being outside. Maybe open your eyes for a moment before closing them again.
- The second part of the practice is working with your breath. In this practice rest your attention lightly on the breath. Feel it as it comes into your body and as it goes out. There’s no special way to breathe in this technique. We are interested in how we already are. If you find that you are controlling your breath, just let it be however it is. Begin to notice what emotions and feelings in your diaphragm are associated to the way you are breathing. What happens when you notice them? What does it feel like to touch those emotions with your breath?
- Finally, the last part of the practice is observing your thoughts. As you sit practicing, you will notice what kind of thoughts are occurring. Sometimes there are a great many thoughts overlapping with no apparent significance or origin. Other times they may be specific and elicit strong emotions and are hard to let go of. Just notice what happens. If you notice that you are so caught up in thoughts that you have forgotten that you’re sitting in the room, just gently bring yourself back to your breath. You can mentally say “I was thinking” to yourself as a further reminder of what just happened. This labeling is not a judgment it is a neutral observation.