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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Many with an interest in Buddhism, hope to meet with HH The Dalai Lama or HH The Karmapa even if only for a few minutes. But what’s to be learned by those fortunate enough?
In 2010 I had the opportunity to do that very thing. Something many people only dream of – meeting his Holiness the 17th Karmapa on a one-to-one basis. It came out of the blue, totally unplanned from a young girl I’d been helping with English language. It turned out, her husband is the bodyguard of his Holiness the Dalai Lama, and in return for my kindness she wanted to arrange a one to one appointment with his Holiness the Karmapa. It would have been The Dalai Lama if he hadn’t been out of the country. Of course I accepted the offer, not wishing to appear ungrateful. But in situations such as this, I would have preferred to have something to say, questions to ask and something constructive to base my appointment on. The time came quickly, in fact it was the following day, so even if I’d wanted to think something up I didn’t have time. Arriving early afternoon in Norbulingka the home of his Holiness, I was shown into a small basic room with only a short wait, before being shown into something far
The western world – a hub for mindfulness, meditation and all things mind related. But what is the mind? And where is it located? Let’s debate!
In today’s fast moving societies where targets and deadlines dominate & our economic situation is constantly changing. It’s no surprise people are trying to find ways of quieting the mind, to manage stress and deal with every day life. It’s true we talk about it every day, but even if the most skilled surgeon on the planet cut open our head and body he/or she would not find anything that resembles mind. So where & what exactly is the mind?
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.
Why do we find it so difficult to see the positives in life – yet we have no problem finding the negatives?
This was a question asked by one of my regular Saturday morning Mindfulness group members. The theme for the session was ‘bringing back the Joy in our lives’ and it became clear, somewhere along life’s journey our joy gets replaced with depression & anxiety.
So why do we find it so easy to think negatively about ourselves & the world – but so hard to find the positives?
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