Meditation & Mindfulness #1: Steps to Begin(Remember)

I cannot recommend Meditation/Mindfulness enough.

I have already stated this in the “About” section and I will say it yet again – I cannot recommend it anymore, for EVERYONE and for ALL facets of life.

The interesting part is that we have all meditated or been mindful at some point in our lives. We just need to uncover/discover/remember our innate abilities, natural gifts and peace within. If you look at the definition of “discover” for instance, this means to “bring to light” or “come across”, so in essence, that which is already there.

Very loosely, mindfulness is “paying attention” in the present moment, of which the practice of meditation will strengthen. I am sure we have all focussed our attention/awareness on something  before, have we not..?

We need to now “cultivate”, practice or more accurately –  “remember” as mentioned before, our intrinsic nature of consciousness and awareness, of which I believe we as a people throughout time, generally speaking have lost or “forgotten.”

I remember someone saying to me, “I can’t meditate as I can’t just think of nothing, let alone sit still for that long.” To which I wanted to say…actually I wanted shout (ha ha), “Believe me when I say, if I can “do” it, then anybody can!” I think I ended up saying something calmly along the lines of, “It’s not about stopping your thinking but more about observing your thoughts.”

Our brains are constantly thinking –  that is what they are meant to do. But we don’t have to get caught up in every single thought. We think we do because thoughts are truly powerful. We need to remember, that WE are the “observers”.

The practice of meditation and mindfulness will allow us to watch these thoughts and emotions come and go, like clouds in the sky, allowing us to stay seated in “awareness”. We are not our thoughts. We know this, as so many thoughts have come and gone in our lives that don’t mean anything to this day, have they not..?

But some thoughts and emotions(depending on how we process situations in life)we “cling” to and they stay with us for an indefinite time, until we “process” them and let them go.

The practice of meditation and mindfulness will help us in staying “present”, so we do not get caught up in every thought and emotion that happens to us, which can often “bog” us down in time. We can therefore maintain fresh eyes and deal effectively with each passing moment, without be “tainted” all the time by past and futures events which do not exist. Yes, we need to plan for the future and we do learn from the past naturally but dwelling on these is not living and not effective. I hope that makes sense.

Meditation & mindfulness has in the past had various connotations as being “out there”; “hippie”; “alternative” or whatever else it has been labelled. Nowadays, it is way more acceptable, not to mention growing in popularity or I would rather like to say, in recognition – we are all growing in consciousness.

Not to mention, how modern “medicine” and “science” are truly seeing the benefits and applications of practising. On this note, the practising of meditation on a regular basis will actually “rewire” your neurological pathways in a positive way.

We are the Observers

You can test this right now – Say “hello” in your mind. You have now just “witnessed”(subject), the object(“hello” – thought). You can do this for anything such as “something you need to do”, or kicking your toe, or even go so far as “fear”, which is also another object we are aware of. These subjects are not you, you are the “witness”.

When the penny drops and you actually are “aware” of this, it is truly amazing. I remember sitting and practising a meditation of “watching your thoughts”. This is truly amazing, especially when your brain has been very active after a long day or for other reasons. You can sit and watch totally unrelated thoughts come and go.

Meditation and Mindfulness will strengthen this. As mentioned, we can now stay more “centred” in the “seat of awareness” of which presence and peace are our true natures and accessible always. This allows us to witness life and its happennings come and go, without getting caught up in its melodrama and enjoy it more.

There is so much information on meditation and mindfulness nowadays and accessible through so many platforms via social media and the internet, which is truly awesome. Not to mention many “guru’s” and “experts” around the world which we have access too.

But, at the end of the day and without sounding cliche, these are all “pointers” to the true meditator and “observer”, which…is YOU.

So…back to why I felt myself almost shouting at this person who said he “can’t meditate”. The reason, is because for as long as I can remember, I have been quite “high” energy.  My wife would maybe even have said “very” high energy. High energy from both a physically and mental point of view – both connected, so no confusion there really. So for those who think they can’t sit still, then believe me when I say, if I can meditate, then so can you.

I have always been sporty/physical, always having to “do” something. In fact, still to this day, if I do not exercise for a day I can feel the energy building up – not as much but still so.

My mind on the other hand(as I mentioned in the “About” section), I realised I had lived a large portion of life in an anxious state. I could never sit still for a long time, from doing school homework, to anything else after school really – never being able to focus for long periods of time at all. Again, mind and body are connected and they have a bearing on each other – the mind directing the body mostly.

We are all “hardwired” differently for various reasons, from childbirth to upbringing, diet etc, giving us all our unique attributes and characteristics. Nonetheless, no matter who you are or where you come from, or how “balanced” you think you are, I believe we all should and need to “practice” meditation and being mindful.

I have also heard people say, “I don’t have the time.” To which I think the best answer to that is:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb

I think this makes absolute sense. The irony is that when you start meditating and being mindful, you actually start finding more “space” and life seems to “slow down” somewhat, giving you a better perspective to attend more efficiently and truthful to each situation and passing moment.

Through practising meditation, you become more “centred”, as mentioned a few times before. We therefore don’t need to act from a total emotional point of view and so able to see a little more clearly and not through frantic or anxious eyes.  This will enable you to apply yourself appropriately to what really is important and with the “ideal” course of action.

Until I started meditation, I  did not realise how it is so much “more” than what we realise and yet at the same time it can almost seem the most “useless ” or I should rather say, “indescribable” “action”(not that you really can call it an action)I know of. Those who meditate, know exactly what I am talking about.

Meditation can almost seem at times to touch on the answers to everything in life and the universe but yet it can seem like the most pointless thing too…truly profound.

I won’t go down this path in this post but I suppose my point being is that we are always generally operating or living our lives with the intent of “gaining” something, as we feel we “lack” and so by practising meditation and mindfulness will allow us to start seeing what we really do “have” in our lives already. This is just part of it.

“Meditation is really just quieting yourself enough so you can get in touch with your own inner wisdom. ~ Louise Hay

Meditation and mindfulness will provide answers beyond what you ever expected and as previously stated, touch on all facets of life but I believe the main focus for most of us, is finding peace.

When you have peace, what problems are there?

On a spiritual note, I do believe practising meditation and mindfulness can lead to God but I will write a separate post on this.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Note: Please see part two of this post to come, which includes a simple and brief action plan. Enjoy.

 

Finding Peace Through Letting Go-Non Clinging, Non Striving & Balance

I thought it applicable to write the first post for “A Conscious Time” on the subject of letting go and related to this – non clingingnon striving & balance. 

These are all connected and knowing when to let go or to fully let go, I believe to be one of the greatest lessons to be learnt and awaken to, as it underpins what you are letting go of, to what and why…

We are talking about “letting go” as a general principle and how it can be applied to almost anything in life – besides maybe pulling someone up a cliff with a rope, then that would not be advisable but I think you know what I mean.

Letting go can be such a subtle principle but such a beautiful principle that can lead to so many treasures, including “success”(can be intangible and hard to see sometimes)but most importantly peace of mind, which ultimately effects everything in life. It is not an easy lesson to learn but it does not need to be difficult either. It’s a lesson that I personally and “my character” or ego rather, seem to wrestle with from time to time.

The reason why I thought it applicable to write the first post centred around “letting go”, is because I actually found myself sitting down thinking about what the first post should be and realised – I have spent a weeks worth of holiday with my family, being “stressed” and in essence clinging and striving – a perfect start and reminder I think, to let go

During this time, I found myself having thoughts(internal running commentary)of, “not where I want to be”, with regards to work and life and wanting to accomplish a lot while at home with my wife and 19 month old son. I(my wife included – amazing how we effect each other)began slipping out of presence and became anxious trying to fit in all business ideas, hobbies and family time.

Despite all the awareness we can learn, it can be easy to slip into worldly accomplishments – striving and clinging and in essence, slipping out of balancebalance being the absolute key.

As Michael A. Singer put it in his book called, The Untethered Soul“The Way is in the middle because that’s the place where the energies are balanced.” 

He uses the analogy of a pendulum and how it comes to rest in the middle, where balanced, unlimited energy can be found and how you cannot sustain unbalanced energies at the extremes for too long.

Experience and practice this and you will know what he is talking about – the way – Dao de Jing.

Such a great and poignant analogy, which links to how we strive and cling, causing us to fall out of balance, as apposed to being present and fulfilled in the moment.

Why We Strive & Cling

Before I go on, yes we are human and therefore subject to our “mammalian” or “human” and physical aspects of living, e.g  fight or flight mechanisms. But we are called to more(mind & spirit) than this and there is more than just “meets the eye”.

Fear is the root cause for striving and clinging – all suffering really.

The feeling of “lacking”, which stems from a deeply spiritual level, effects how we live life and we then project these fears onto the physical world.
We then try to make up for it in material things, which drives us to feel we need to fulfil ourselves – wanting more and more, sometimes leading to power-hungry, never quite feeling satisfied and ever searching for the next thing to fulfil us.

Other fears which link to this perceived feeling of lacking, range from “failure”, which link to “baggages” we identify with. Trying to provide and keeping up with what society dictates is another example; maintaining that status or “good feeling”(clinging)etc. The list can go on and on.

We either strive to fulfil that which we perceive we lack, or we cling to that which we perceive makes us feel good. This we do by “labelling” what we think benefits us or does not, i.e good and bad which can be very subjective. Both striving and clinging keep us bound and never actually allowing us to be free and present, where true peace and true “power”(if I can call it that), resides.

Letting Go of Striving & Clinging

We really do not need to strive or cling to anything. The balance is found in acknowledging your goals/dreams/plans/ambitions/wants/needs etc and then…letting them go.

Why?

When you strive/cling, you are acting out of fear as mentioned.
It might not feel like fear sometimes but this can be deceiving. Give it some thought and analyse what is truly driving you to strive or cling e.g, never wanting that good feeling to leave you, or striving to get that promotion for money or status, etc.

Striving and clinging, “closes”(heart)oneself off to a world of abundance and what is already available. Not too mention you will now see life through eyes of fear and desperation, which we all know is not a good place to be in to make sound decisions. We do truly see a world through our own “lenses” and not being centred and striving or clinging places us off balance.

One might argue, that sometimes you are forced to “act” or one needs to “take action” and change the situation…This is not easy to answer and the situation will determine what action needs to be taken in the present moment but just be aware of what is driving you and where it will lead…

We will naturally be drawn and directed according to our strengths and passions by staying open and being present. Giving your full attention to what you are doing now, even if it is a job for example you do not like. By applying yourself presently and at your best will open you to other opportunities, perhaps ones you were not aware of.
You will then carry this positive energy going forward.

Letting go could give you the space you need to think clearly. Again…fear will cloud your judgement – logically speaking for those that relate to this – as you are now not centred and begin acting emotionally. Yes we are emotional beings and we do not fight these emotions but our emotions are very fleeting and subjective, so just be aware of this.

Lets take it a step further and take striving/clinging to the next level – a very anxious level…

The mind in its anxious state, will actively search for solutions(which the brain is hardwired to do). This then places you in a very anxious mind set and anxiety produces more anxious thoughts.

Side Note: I believe, generally speaking, that we are all mostly in a mild state of anxiousness as a standard, if not more, due to our lifestyle and society pressures today, so we also need to be aware of this. But, we don’t have to be caught up in this.

Increased stress and anxiety based on over striving/clinging, will then determine how anxious your thoughts are and how deep and how far you “run” with them. This in turn will determine how long it takes to “snap out of it” or reawaken and become centred once again. You must pay attention to this, as otherwise it just cycles and you end up having your “ups”…and then your “downs”.

Action plan:

Short term plan if stressed or over anxious: Depending on how anxious or “stressful” you are(if acute), the fast track out of there is to stop thinking and “let go” as quickly as possible.
Again, to reiterate – you will not think clearly in this state and being present is the best thing you can do. Thinking is one part of life, not all.

Take a walk, breath, exercise, anything that can break the mindset but remember also not to resist and just “witness” what is going on – you are not your thoughts.

Let go of it all if you have to and just be in the moment. This can be a very freeing moment as we are mostly living in either the past or the future and never really living in the now. I am not encouraging negating responsibility and using “letting go” as an excuse but more so by starting again in the now. Sometimes, however situations that are beyond our control do call for complete surrender.

Long Term Plan: Meditation & mindfulness; awareness; being present; rest in God – practice these gifts and have a little patience.

One also has to remember that we cannot control many things in life, so we need to find balance in that.

I like the analogy of feeding birds – you cannot run after birds to feed them – you need to stay still and centred and wait for them to come to you. You can run and strive to feed them but I think we know what happens there.

Have you ever been focussed and stuck on something for an excruciating long period of time and just not able to make headway? You are then forced to “let it go” for whatever reason, only to come back the next day or after a period of time and cracking it in a minute?

Let go – get perspective – take a step back.

Some might argue, you need to be hungry and grab/take what you can from life but you then need to ask yourself why and where will this truly lead you? If we cannot let go and find relative peace(if not true peace)in the now, then we won’t find it somewhere else or in something else.

This is a very hard pill to swallow, believe me I know but a nice pill to practice swollowing.

Letting go is a statement that says you lack for nothing, “opens” your heart and therefore attracts more abundance – that which we already have.

The Pareto principle I believe can help too, as it states loosely, that 80% of effects comes from 20% of the causes. This can be across many applications. So in effect we worry and stress about 80% of nothing really.

Let Go – “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39

This is a beautiful quote which I believe highlights the “letting go” principle  perfectly.

To sum it up as simply as possible: Balance is the key. Striving and clinging is from a place of fear and closes oneself off, not being able to see clearly. Your state of mind and body will signal when you are not in a good space and this is when you need to let go. 

Practice letting go daily and find that balance and you will not need to go to the extremes only to be forced back through stress, illness etc, bringing you back to your natural peace within.

Don’t expect things to change over night – this is how we as a “modern” society, generally speaking, have become conditioned to be. Open your hands and let go and you will receive that which is already your natural inheritance and guide you in the right direction.

Note: Practice these principles. This post should not negate working hard nor encourage just sitting and waiting for things to come to you.

The key is balance. 


Allow these ideas to take root and don’t overthink them.

Enjoy and find peace.