Mindfulness meditation

Article submission, Saturday 23rd December 2006

Stress is a duel edged sword. Too much creates and manifests negative physical ailments within our system and too little of it makes us far to lethargic. Neither of which is a good thing. In balance stress serves its purpose in keeping us alert and in tune with our immediate environment, switched on in other words. Stress is typically fortified when we are in a negative emotional mental state resulting in a feeling of losing control of a given situation.It is important that we must be mindful of just how detrimental this is to our overall wellbeing especially if it is on a regular basis.

Anyhow this page is not about the causes and effects of stress but rather the control of it, ultimately leading to a state of mental contentment and clear thinking. What follows is an exercise called mindfulness meditation that has worked very well for me. It is truly a very simple technique which brings about a profound relaxed state of mind, controlling that (sometimes annoying) inner voice to give way to a more silent level of awareness.

The Technique

1. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit where you will not be disturbed - (at least not for the next 15 - 20 mins)

2. Sit quietly and close your eyes.

3. Inhale and exhale normally and slowly bring your awareness to the rhythm of your breathing. Not controlling it, just focus and observe.

4. Keeping your focus you will notice breathing variations such as rhythm, speed and depth. This is ok, just be aware of and except this. Again do NOT try to control this, you are merely observing.

5. At some point your mind will switch (or attempt to) other thoughts you have or even external noises around you no matter how faint they may be. When this happens, or maybe I should say when you are aware of this happening simply bring your thoughts back in line to your breathing.

6. Relax, keep still and stay as one with the rhythm of your breathing.

Practice this technique twice daily morning and evening, plus any time you are feeling upset or agitated. This will help align your thinking. Another good practice is to have a small pocket alarm set for 15 mins. Once it goes off remain positioned and in your newly aligned mental state you are mentally well positioned for any mental visualisations you wish to rehearse for another 7 mins or so. Begin your re emergence by opening your eyes and remain seated for a few seconds more. By practicing this daily with consistency you will achieve a clarity of mind resulting in a contact with your `inner self'. This is indeed the realm of the real YOU.

My own personal observation is that because we are not `daydreaming' or our thoughts are not haphazard but instead controlled, this 15 mins seems to `stretch' out to what seems like much more than the mere small time frame that actually elapsed.

Also you may have any one of three experience's during your meditation episode. After saying such they are no cause for alarm as all are `correct'.

1.You may feel bored or even restless resulting in thoughts surfacing in your mind. These are mearly an indication of deep stresses being freed from the mind. During this it is important to keep control by remaining relaxed and continuing the meditation.

2.You may even fall asleep, should this occur it is a clear indication you need more rest than you are currently getting.

3.You may `slip into the gap'. At this point your breathing becomes refined and settled and you enter the space between your thoughts...beyond sound and beyond breath.

This simple technique is only one of many to to be explored and practiced. A definitive resource worthy of further examination is Creating Health: How to Wake Up the Body's Intelligence by Deepak Chopra, wherein the many aspects of physical, mental and spiritual health are covered thoroughly.

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