A Mind at Ease With Itself
I first started practicing meditation waaaaay back in college. I still remember the first time I went to the Buddhist temple in my college town and the peaceful vibe it radiated. I was hoping to create that peacefulness in my constantly thinking brain.
Full of hope I sat on the meditation cushion, got comfortable and said to my brain. “Okay, stop thinking now, we are meditating”. Well, I’m sure you know how well that meditation went. Because I had this idea that all thinking had to stop to be in a meditative state, I actually started and stopped meditating on and off for the better part of the next twenty years. Occasionally there were quiet moments in my head where I thought…Whoa! I’m not thinking about anything….Fail! Then judging myself for failing and thinking again. Ever been there?
All of this changed when I discovered mindfulness meditation about five years ago. I learned that the absence of thought might be a nice occurrence, but mostly it is the practice of mindful awareness of our thoughts. Recognizing in meditation when a thought comes in, not attaching to it, then watching the thought leave. That is where the magic happens. With enough practice, you will eventually get to the place where the length between the thoughts increases, and by default you are no longer thinking.
What are the benefits to mindfulness meditation? Not only for Depression, but for stress relief and overall healthier relationships?
Watch my video below for a quick introductory practice and then read on below for the benefits.
1.Detachment from thought
Mindfulness meditation teaches us that we are not our thoughts, but rather the quiet presence behind the thoughts. We are the witness to our thoughts. We start noticing that thoughts come and go with very little effort on our part, We learn that it is in our attachment to the thought that we keep the thought in place and start inviting more of the same thoughts in. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to be aware of our thoughts throughout our waking moments. We no longer become slaves to our brain taking us in every direction, recounting past events, or worrying about events yet to come. We also become keenly aware just how much of our thoughts are actually made up stories by our mind with very little truth attached to it.
I encourage you to start checking in with yourself throughout the day. What am I thinking about right now? Then spend about 30 seconds bringing your attention back to your breath. This can be practiced pretty much anywhere throughout your day.
2. Becoming less reactive
Once we start becoming aware of our thought and how they float in and out of our consciousness we start recognizing how little they really have to do with facts and how much of them are truly made up tales. This enables us to learn to step back a little.We no longer let our thoughts become triggers and become a little more curious about why we believe what we are thinking about. This ability to analyze our own thinking then becomes the place where we can learn to start practicing the pause. Instead of immediately reacting to another in a confrontational situation, we can learn to start asking ourselves, what is currently making me so angry? Then we can learn to become aware that we are rarely angry about the situation and mostly angered by the story we are making up about the difficult situation. It also helps us to stabilize our own moods. As we start feeling sad, anxious or even depressed, we can move into curiosity with ourselves and ask “What am I currently telling myself that is making me feel bad?”
I hope you will give mindfulness meditation a try in your daily life and watch the ease and grace of a mind at peace with itself unfold.
I would love to hear if you have tried to follow along with my meditation video and what worked or didn’t work for you.