I have been surrounded by this idea of meditation for many years now, having practiced yoga for over 10 years and teaching it for about 4. Meditation is a big part of yoga, classes are typically started with sitting for a few moments in silence trying to quiet the mind. When I tell people that I have trouble meditating on a regular basis their response in usually one of both judgement and relief. A combination of “what kind of yoga teacher doesn’t meditate?” and “Oh wow, she is human just like me.”
Let me elaborate a little. When I was doing my teacher training and even since, in immersion worships that I have done we have always taken time (typically 30 min) to sit in silence, with the goal of trying to ‘clear the mind’. What does that even mean ‘clear the mind’ and is that even possible? The mind it built to think….that IS what our brains do, and now you want me to shut that off? Go against what I am designed to do? Homegirl don’t think so.
How about we try something different. Instead of trying to shut our brains off (a task that constantly makes me feel like a failure) why not sit in the quietness of listening to what is actually going on in our mind? Quoted from the following article (that you should definitely read) “Mindfulness, paying precise, nonjudgemental attention to the details of our experience as it arises and subsides, doesn’t reject anything. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences we find difficult, we practice being able to be with them.” Mindful meditation is not a new concept, not is it mine, what it is though is brilliant.
So how is mindful meditation done? Find a quite place to sit, close your eyes, tune into your breath and begin to pay mindful attention of what your brain is thinking. You may find your mind creeping into dark little corner or perhaps lighting up with enlivening experiences. By paying close attention to this we can learn to direct out minds to stay away from the dark corners that leave is feeling down, to focus more on the enlivening thoughts that leave is feeling……well enlivened! To get into a brief scientific-ish explanation, if you look at your thoughts as neuro-pathways, and these neuro-pathways like muscles; exercising positive muscles will strengthen these thoughts and feelings, and exercising negative ones……you get the picture :)
I have a bum knee these days that has been keeping me from running and holding me back in my yoga practice. I hate it. It is frustrating and for some reason is not getting better……. Do you see what has happened here? On a daily basis, and multiple times during the day I am strengthening the neuro-pathway muscles to keep my knee feeling unloved and hurt, and my mind believing that I am injured! Instead I have started sending positive, loving messages that me knee is strong and able to heal. It is slowly starting to feel better and no doubt in my mind, I will overcome this with the positive intention of my mind.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, here is the article that I was talking about earlier that gets into more explanation of mindful meditation is an how to practice it. After all, life is just that, moments of practicing and feeling experience. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation
Bye for now,
Andrea Bath R.H.N.