Some weeks back I ventured to the Mahasiddha Kadampa Mediation Centre to learn (again!) what this Mindfulness Meditation is all about.
Why? As a business owner, my mind is always looking ahead and not in the present. This has affected my life quite a bit lately in terms of mind-wandering in training sessions, stressed about deadlines and crossing off tasks on my To Do List (I’m a big list taker) but more importantly, it has affected my cncentration on the road. Because I have been distracted with what’s coming up, I’ve made some very silly, not to mention risky mistakes whilst driving.
It was recommended that I start mediating to settle the mind and get in the present. So when picking up some fresh produce in Bondi Junction one day, I grabbed a flyer on Mindfulness for the Surry Hills centre.
Sunday 10am-4pm – 1 day, yee-haa can go straight after my class
$60 – yep all good…and I get some snacks and a cuppa
It’s in the calendar!
So what is Mindfulness?
Wikipedia defines it as “The practice of Mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective.”
Dr. Craig Hassed, a facilitor at Monash University explains “mindfulness meditation involves using your senses to help you focus your attention on the present."
The Buddhist Council of NSW determines the difference between normal and Buddhist meditation is Mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation improves our non-judgemental awareness throughout the day, so that we are not on “auto-pilot”, but instead living life fully aware.
Mahasiddha Kadampa Meditation Centre focus’ on the Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation and starts with the Mindfulness of Breathing, this is where you use breath as the object of your concentration. It’s particularly good for restlessness and anxiety plus it has a positive effect on one’s physical and mental state.
Practising mindfulness helps you:
to be fully present, here and now
to experience unpleasant thoughts and feelings safely
to become aware of what you’re avoiding
to become more connected to yourself, to others and to the world around you
to increase self-awareness
to become less disturbed by and less reactive to unpleasant experiences
to learn the distinction between you and your thoughts
to have more direct contact with the world, rather than living through your thoughts
to learn that everything changes; that thoughts and feelings come and go like the weather
to have more balance, less emotional volatility
to experience more calm and peacefulness
to develop self-acceptance and self-compassion
There are also a number of techniques however the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alertness and focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgement. This allows the mind to refocus on the present.
All forms of mindfulness techniques are meditation.
* Basic Mindfulness Meditation: sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word/mantra that you repeat silently.
* Body Sensations: notice subtle body sensations like an itch or tingling and let the sensation pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.
* Sensory: notice sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes.
* Emotions: accept the presence of emotions (joy, anger, frustration, stress) and let them go.
* Urges and Cravings: notice how your body feels and reacts when a urge and/or craving enters your mind. Replace this wish for the craving to go away by accepting that urge will subside.
How about you try it?
Set aside a time of the day and quiet place. Start with 5 minutes and build from there.
The following exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.
1. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations and your ideas.
4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to wander, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.
Although I have been trying, usually allowing 5 minutes before an early morning training session, it takes time to master. My mind still races but it is getting better. Like anything, things take time to achieve so give it the time, energy and space before making a decision if it's good for your life's well being or not. Thre is a chance it will enhance your life, not be a burden.
Stay Active in the Season you are in,