Have you noticed how we humans tend to dissect ourselves and put the different parts in clearly labeled boxes? Let me try to explain further…..We often define ourselves by our jobs, religion, position in life etc.
This struck me a couple of days ago whilst running a self awareness & self development workshop. Each person was asked to tell me a little bit about ‘him/herself.’ As each one spoke it struck me, most of us define ourself by things, people & situations around us. For example; I’m a teacher, a mother, husband or wife. I’m a Christian or I work in a high ranking job. But nobody spoke about his or herself as a person. So I set the following exercise:
You’re given weeks to live. Already you’re becoming dependent on those around you for feeding, bathing etc. Your job has gone now & although you’re missed, you’ve been replaced already. All the clothes you own, suits, dresses, shoes etc will soon all belong to someone else maybe resold through the charity shop. It’s the same with your husband or wife, they’ll one day share their life with another but right now they’re responsible for your comfort and care. Deep down in your heart, you know your beautiful children & grandchildren will always remember you through photos, but may very well call someone else mum & grandma in the future. Everything you own, your life savings, the world you thought you knew & the dreams you had, are all relative now as you lay confined to your bed.
All the external things that once defined you have pretty much gone. Who are you?
What are your thoughts?
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Dementia & Alzheimers seem to be on the increase, especially in the West. I’ve certainly noticed an increase in people mentioning during treatments, their fears around the symptoms. But do you know, there’s a way to slow down the process and maybe even cure the symptoms? I’m really not joking, and I’ve absolutely no idea why we aren’t told about it – Meditation.
But would you know the difference between Alzheimers & Dementia? This is a powerful question and for most of us, the answer would be NO. First let’s understand the differences, and then how a simple practice like meditation can help reverse the symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease destroys neurons and their connections in the parts of the brain controling memory. These include; the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behaviour.
Dementia is a group of symptoms affecting our mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning (for example, making sense of the world) Dementia is a kind of umbrella that Alzheimer’s disease stands under, and it has many causes. The most common is Alzheimers. Please note… there are different types of dementia too.
Mindfulness – buzzword of the 21st Century. Maybe you’re an avid Mindfulness practitioner yourself? But if someone asked you the difference between Mindfulness & Meditation, would you know?
Don’t worry! Most people wouldn’t and this is why many people aren’t getting the most from their practice. Here you can find a short understandable explanation of the two and how they work…..
Meditation is all about letting go, just being and entering a deep restful state. When your mind & body has the peace it needs, it automatically know how to heal itself. This wonderful state of healing happens, when you access a state of consciousness different from waking, sleeping, or dreaming.
The benefits of entering this state:
We enable the right and left hemispheres of the brain to communicate, strengthening the corpus callosum which bridges the two. This allows us to come up with creative solutions even in “high-stress” situations.
Mindfulness however, is a completely different practice. In fact, mindfulness could be seen as the complete opposite of meditation. Mindfulness is about complete non judgemental awareness of sensation and experience – being in the moment ‘as it is’ with complete vision. The brilliance of the two is they fit perfectly together, which sums up the very essence of Eastern Healing – treating the mind and body as a complete unit rather than 2 separate things.
Mindfulness & its place in Meditation Practice.
Focusing the mind before meditation is vital. Especially in the West, where most of us struggle with targets & deadlines at work, and family/personal issues at home. We can’t just wipe these worries away & so we need to refocus the mind before even thinking about meditation. This is where Mindfulness practice comes in. Paying attention to the pace, sound, sensation etc of the breath and being aware of this & any thoughts that enter our mind in a completely non-judgemental way.
Once we feel at ease, we then begin to enter a different state where we ‘just are’ it’s a state of complete rest for the mind and body which is meditation. Some call this Mindfulness Meditation.
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Do you spend most of your time on autopilot? Welcome to the club. It’s something we all do at some time in life.
Making plans, thinking about the future, trying to complete our To-Do lists. We’re so busy rushing towards the future and some wonderful event more exciting than the present moment, we forget to really live. Many great experiences in the here and now are missed in the chaos of life the present moment is an obstacle between now, and the best bits of life. We don’t even realise, we could already be there.
How often have you walked or driven somewhere, and not remembered the journey? Or eaten your favourite meal without tasting a single bite or savouring any of its delicious flavours. Mindfulness or being present is the fastest way to live life more fully with happiness and wisdom. It simply involves moment to moment awareness of what is happening now, both inside and outside. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind, while externally we begin to broaden our awareness so we notice what’s really happening in the external environment.
One way to experience present moment awareness, is to just to STOP for no more than a minute and be totally aware of what is happening right now.