Health,  Mental Health

What Is Mindful Meditation Practice

In the previous Alternative To Anxious Living post, we briefly touched on how meditation plays an important roll in recovery. What Is Mindful Meditation Practice, now examines this a little closer.

Exploring by Spike #spikeblogs

I hope you found your breath, please stick with it. It’s important to develop this skill and continue to practice each day. Just a few brief minutes is all you need – not of breathing! but of noting it happening 😉

My intention now, as we start our journey in earnest, is to be as clear and transparent as I possibly can.

So, asking myself, do I explain what this practice “is”, or would describing what it “isn’t” be more helpful? hmmm…

I’ll go with a mix of both and if it leaves you with questions, feel free to drop me a line anytime.

WHAT OUR PRACTICE IS AND ISN’T…

Firstly, this is NOT a religious practice. It doesn’t lead you towards a deity or worship of any kind.

This is a practical exercise that will put you in touch with your spiritual nature. You do have one!

This practice is over 2,500 years old and originates in ancient Buddhism. You DO NOT need to become Buddhist in order to practice, and regardless of any faith you may currently hold, this is freely open to you!

I must explain, there is a natural relationship between mindful insight meditation and Buddhism. I find that my respect and gratitude towards Buddhism grows over time. It’s like a gift that constantly keeps on giving. 

The more this practice teaches me, the more I enquire and trust in the answers I receive.

On the one hand it teaches us how to mediate and better understand our true nature. On the other, it helps us replace the old broken thinking patterns with the highest quality truths.

Combining regular meditation with Buddhist teachings is THE antidote to our broken modern thinking.

Wow! Profound! I just read that back. It’s a huge statement… but it must stay, because I believe it is true.

My goal is solely to introduce this to you, to help you find your own path.

For the record, I don’t consider myself to be of any faith or religion. I do not worship any god or deity.

If pressed to describe my beliefs, I would say they are most closely aligned to the core Buddhist ethos.

Not that this matters, but for pure information, I believe all life is precious and no sentient being has any more entitlement to respect and life, than any other. Kindness matters and a purity of heart must be cultivated.

Nothing is forever! We all suffer. There are things about our nature and the universe we experience, that we know nothing. True peace and happiness comes from within and it’s available to each and every single one of us.

Most religions make reference to your salvation or the kingdom of god being located within you. They are all open to interpretation but the value I take note of is, they all point to the same place. Interesting huh?

This journey answers all my questions about panic and anxiety, and relives me of them. But, it doesn’t stop there! As debilitating and all consuming as panic and anxiety is, whilst I continue to practice, I continue to grow.

The practice helps me ask better questions. I am ever curious, grateful and deeply respectful of its teachings.

A modern metaphor… 

Think of our practice as a survival guide…

Imagine being cast into a hostile wilderness, completely at the mercy of mother nature with just a survival guide for company. After a couple of chapters you’re making fire, collecting wild foods and storing water. By the end of the guide you’re making tools, building shelters and protecting your camp with defences.

So, consider this your modern day survival guide. It’s where mother nature has been replaced by our modern world. Where our fear of no shelter or food is exchanged for high stress and social anxieties. Where rather than build solid camp defences what we actually need is better emotional defences and more compassion.

In order to dissolve irrational panic and anxiety, we must study the survival guide and practice new skills.

If we want things to be different, we must do different – Spike

We must learn how to interrogate our powerful primitive emotions. When we truly see the broken thinking that leads to irrational panic and anxiety, literally, it can’t re-surface… It dissolves as quickly as it arose.

The meditation practice is the vehicle which carries us and teaches us. I know this sounds other-worldly, but it’s not! I just don’t have a better way of describing it for you. Stick with it and you’ll see!

To investigate the history and validity of my claims, what I refer to herein is Theravada Buddhism and the practice of mindful insight meditation, known as Vipassana (mindfulness through experience).

In my experience, if you want to dissolve all irrational panic and anxiety, return to a normal balanced life and develop tools to help you cope in this world, you need look no further than this post… It really is that simple!

Now I’m a relatively simple guy with a pragmatic outlook. I don’t fool easily and generally recommend purely on my experience or highly qualified advice. So, you can be sure, I don’t recommend this lightly.

I sincerely hope my approach will support you as you begin your own personal journey.

There is no wrong way, only experience – Spike
No Wrong Way by Spike #spikeblogs

OK, let’s now set a few terms in stone and we’ll be able to move on.

MEDITATION

This is what we call our formal practice. For now, don’t be misled into thinking it is any more than sitting quietly and noting your breath. We require no props or special poses. In time we’ll explore mindful meditation further.

PRESENCE

When we are sat in meditation and aware of our breath, we are present. Clear of distracted thoughts and consciously aware of our body or surroundings, is presence. Presence is a state which we can choose.

MINDFULNESS

Often confused with presence, ‘mindfulness’ is the practical act of choosing to be present. Mindfulness is the way we cultivate presence and can be formal through meditation, but also incorporated into daily life.

RISING AND FALLING

As we breath naturally our stomach gently rises and falls. So, instead of noting the ‘in’ and ‘out’ of your breath, let’s refocus it and now note ‘rising’ and ‘falling’. Try to note each word slowly to match the length of the breath.

MONKEY MIND

Previously, I referred to it as our automatic-mind. However, it’s more commonly referred to as “monkey mind”. I define this as the mind when we’re no longer present. Flip on auto-pilot and it’s monkey mind that takes the stick!

In Summary

In our mindfulness meditation practice our goal is to maintain presence. We focus our attention on the rising and falling of our natural breath. This mindful practice turns off our primitive monkey mind and helps us cultivate an Alternative To Anxious Living.

Ripples by Spike #spikeblogs
Homework…

This task is introductory and will evolve. Try to approach it without anger, frustration or prejudice.

It will help to become completely clear about the above terms so please study them carefully.

This weeks homework is to build up to a 5 minute meditation, once or twice a day, but no more!

Please be kind to yourself and others, if you get interrupted just call it a bust and try again later. It can help to set a 5 minute timer on your phone or ask Alexa to remind you. She get’s everywhere these days!

The practice is as follows…

Find a quite place and sit upright, with your back unsupported i.e. on the edge of a chair, bed or sofa. Be as relaxed and comfortable as possible and don’t worry if you slouch a little, that’s fine.

Cup your hands with open palms facing upward, just one hand resting in the other (I usually flop my right hand on my left), and touch the tip of my thumbs together. Completely optional step, but I find by doing this I have zero tension in my fingers as I meditate. The point of contact relaxes my arms and it’s comfy… plain and simple.

Then, closing your eyes take a few long deep breaths in and out, just to slow the world down.

If possible, breathe through your nose, naturally. Do not force it, control it or affect it in any way. If your not able to breath through your nose, gently relax your chin and breath through a slightly open mouth.

As you naturally breath, notice how the stomach rises & falls. Mentally note “rriissiinngg” & “ffaalliinngg” as each breath peaks and then expires. Try to match the noting to the length of each breath.

Rinse and repeat till your timer beeps.

When you lose focus and monkey mind takes over, pay no attention to the thoughts that arise. Let them pass through your mind like clouds in the sky, and simply return to noting your breath again.

This is likely to happen often and can become frustrating. DO NOT try to stop it… DO NOT try to avoid this… At this stage, it is the act of noticing it, and returning to the breath that is precious.

When your practice reaches 5 minutes every day for one week, call this homework done. Don’t stop though! Continue to meditate daily, after a few weeks the idea of not meditating – well, you’re not likely to want to stop 😉

I’ll be back soon to share another step with you. Sorry this post is so lengthy, I will try to abbreviate it over time.

Any questions or experiences you would like to share please comment below or message via CONTACT form.

Kindest regards & very best wishes.

Your friend…

 

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