There is nothing – NOTHING – more powerful for the human being than mindfulness training. Mindfulness exercises gently lead us to a state of inner silence and peace which is infinitely powerful and clear. In the west we have the curious delusion that ‘those people who meditate’ – like monks in orange robes, for instance – are somehow living in a fantasy world, a state of delusion.
In face, mindfulness practice results in a SUPERIOR mental state because once all the noise is gone we can function more effectively, concentrate better and think more clearly.
We don’t realize how noisy it is in our heads until we try a mindfulness meditation. Only when we want to be silent do we realize how rarely silence comes … if ever. There are many on this planet who indulge in risky behavior – like Evel Knievel jumping canyons on a motor cycle or drivers racing around a track at a couple of hundred miles per hour. These folks think that it is the activity that makes them feel so alive, but in fact it is the inner silence that creates energy. Hazardous activity forces a total inner concentration – or death may be the result.
Many people have said, “Oh, I tried mindfulness meditation and it didn’t work for me.” They are the people who need it the most.
Don’t misunderstand … we need the rational mind, the alpha state. If we’re taking an algebra test, wiring a house or designing a building, the logical mind is required. But it is a tool! We should be able to put it down when we have no need for it just as we would put down any tool when it’s no longer necessary. But in fact, for most of humanity this isn’t possible. The racing mind plows ahead even when we want to relax or sleep.
The Reality Of Mindfulness Training
We cannot FORCE our thoughts to cease. In fact, that is the worst thing to do because it will simply energize our racing minds. Instead, we must learn to allow them to float by, like clouds in the sky, and not take them personally or get involved with them in any way.
Easier said than done, of course. It requires practice and commitment but the rewards are beyond imagining.
A Mindfulness Exercise
Close your eyes, sit quietly for a couple of minutes and then begin to count your breath. Silently say “one” as you inhale; as you exhale silently murmur “two”; “three” on the next inhale; and “four” on the exhale. Then begin again.
Whenever your mind wanders – and it definitely will – don’t get upset with yourself, or angry or vow to do better. Gently bring your attention back to your breathing and begin again.
Another Mindfulness Exercise
This exercise can be done right after the one above or at a different time. First, close your eyes and take a couple of minutes to relax as best you can and then start noticing your breath moving in and out of your nose. Is it cool? warm? weak? powerful? A critical part of mindfulness training is noticing without identifying. Don’t think of your nose as a part of you but just something you are observing without judgment but with much curiosity.
Next, move your attention to various parts of your body: your toes, feet, legs, knees, fingers, etc. What do you notices? Is any part sore or strained or tight. Don’t try to change anything – just notice.
Next, listen to the sounds you hear. Is there a plane overhead? Do you hear kids playing outside? Is the refrigerator humming? This entire time keep your attention on your breathing and body as best you can.
Lastly, open your eyes and look at one object in the room. Don’t name it, think about what it is or judge it in any way (“Gee, that flower is pretty.”) Do this for about 30 seconds and then move your vision to another object and another and another. The entire time you do this, try to remain aware of your breathing and body.
These mindfulness meditations will relax your mind and body and bring you into the moment, into the Now. You will be less stressed, more rested and will be able to think at a higher level, if only for a brief time. Practice of mindfulness training is cumulative – that is, you will become more powerful every time you practice. Don’t think of a goal – there is nowhere to go. Practice is its own reward.