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a mindfulness experiment

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Mindfulness is the practice of witnessing and accepting, moment by moment, what goes on in our mind and body. It helps us awaken to ‘what is’ — unspoiled by wishful thinking.

This morning, wide awake but not ready to enter the rainy day, I stayed in bed with Johann Sebastian on the radio. My mind went this way and that, reflecting on my distant stepmother’s death last week, drones over Libia, my financial situation, a neighbour’s complaints about parking in front her house, the state of my lower back, next sunday’s 10k run … well, you see where this was going. Monkey mind, swinging from thought to thought, being anywhere but present.

Bringing attention first to my breath, I became aware of body tension which soon led to relaxation. Nothing special, simply noticing. Instead of proceeding systematically — as one might with isometric or body scanning techniques — I turned my radar inwards to receive whatever signals came to my awareness. 

Instantly my jaw unclenched, muscles twitched, belly softened, all of “me” felt warm as if embraced. Devoid of urgency and compulsion to intrude, thoughts faded into the background. The mere act of attending — not doing anything to fix or alter — brought about this reduction of stress.

Then something interesting: the moment I stopped paying attention things got tense again: teeth clenched, belly tightened, and thoughts returned full blast. Made me wonder what it does to my general state of health, this constant way of living in tension.

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2 responses »

  1. I had a similar experience this morning. Looking for a bit of a break – kids got up at 6am – I put them in front of a movie and went back to bed, looking for a place of “comfort”. Mind swang back and forth, anxiety began to build. Then I stopped, breathed, let my mind rest just around the heart and felt things settle. The more I work at this, the more I’m convinced the mind has very little to offer. It dominants our lives, but I think 75% (maybe more) of the time it’s completely useless. I think our other organs, places of sensory input together may be far more beneficial, intelligent and insightful…

  2. I love the comment by RM Jiyu Kennett (Order of Buddhist Contemplatives “The mind makes a good servant but not a very good master”

    Watched a Dharma talk by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche of Ligmincha Inst. last night which was quite funny in parts where he says something like why are we always telling the stories of what has been wrong, what is wrong, what might go wrong in our lives. It has such a profound effect on our whole being. He suggests (in jest) that there be therapists we go to where we only tell the good stories of our lives. Perhaps we can be this therapist? True it is good to be mindful. It is also good to tell the nourishing stories (at least I am coming to believe this quite strongly). The talk is on his site (on creativity) the most recent webcast.


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