Building A Practice

Mindfulness is not a matter of thinking more clearly about an experience. It is the act of experiencing with clarity. Mindfulness is about becoming aware of the ever-changing nature of all thoughts and experiences. It is about noticing what has been distracting you from being fully present with life. Work to keep yourself open to whatever it is you may be encountering. The mind and the body are only reflections of the one flowing source of eternal awareness which is pure energy, pure consciousness, and pure life. Every thought is born out of the same intelligent current. All forms are branches of this wisdom. The fundamental tools of mindfulness are the mind and the body. This includes, but is not limited to, the breath, changes in attitude or mood, posture and movement, sense perceptions, other vibrations, and even mindfulness itself. Everything is filtered through mind or body, energy or matter, breathing into and breathing out of awareness.

The first thing you do with a body is breathe. The force that contains the universal intelligence that produces the breath is the same thing that produces a chair, a flower, a bird, an ice cube, and even a stone. “Spirit” is a Latin word meaning breath. Spirituality, in its essence, is to notice the flow of all things coming in and going out through awareness. That is the experience of the universal soul. You may come to know that you are not doing the breathing. The air is breathing itself into and out of the body. The body is breathed. Without trying to change the breath, just notice how it is. It can be observed with the perceptions of hearing, feeling, and sometimes even seeing. It can also be sensed as vibrational energy pulsing within. Notice the qualities of the breath and where a rising or falling is felt in the body. Acknowledge how it changes, improves, becomes calmer, or deeper simply by observing it. Observe the rising and falling but also notice the pauses or spaces between each in and out breath. This has the potential of developing a direct connection with the universal intelligence that you are.

Meditation is noticing what comes up into awareness as you keep attention present. Things that may come up include thoughts, emotions, body awareness, sensations, sense perceptions, and even presence itself. Meditation is a practice of notice when the mind has become distracted. It is to acknowledge true inner power, gratitude, and joy simply there in the being. When you notice a divergence, attention is naturally reclaimed in that moment of noticing. The cycle of diversion and reclamation is the essence of meditation. See how long you can keep attention on the breath in every moment. Practice this in everything you do.

Meditation is not to be confused with the idea of needing to empty the mind, or that it is used to empty the mind. There isn’t even a need to sit on the floor in a particular way with the eyes closed for a set amount of time, although that is a great way to observe the mind and the body. There is no goal to aim for in meditating, there are no achievements to obtain through meditation either. It is only an act of observation. Results tend to vary from session to session, however, there is a common outcome of practicing consistently. It can bring about a total cessation to the turnings of the mind with an experience of a peace that surpasses all understanding. Meditation is not a practice of looking deeply, daydreaming, gaining insight, philosophizing, musing, developing beliefs, pondering, reflecting, contemplating, or even concentrating, although these things may appear. Meditation is a practice of non-practice. It is stopping, it is enjoying doing nothing, it is about noticing the energies and wonders of the working mind-body-soul, it is being fully alive.

  1. Create a regular space and time for formal meditation, preferably both but one or the other is sufficient. Find a quiet and peaceful place where you will not be disturbed. Get into a comfortable seat or position you can remain in for approximately thirty minutes without moving and keeping the head over the heart and the heart over the pelvis.

  2. Close the mouth and the eyes or keep a soft gaze. Let the mind wander and just watch it, observe it. Don’t think about thoughts, just notice them. Practice these two steps twenty minutes a day for a week.

  3. When you have become familiar with the practice of observing the mind, locate an area of the abdomen or chest that moves with the rising and falling of the breath. Attend to it noting “rising” or “falling” keeping attention on the sensation itself for up to a half-hour. An alternative is to count the in breaths and release something on the out breaths counting up to two hundred and fifty breaths.

  4. Bring the sense of awareness gained from a session with you onward. This is the key to living mindfully. It is the most important step to bringing presence into life.

The beginning stage of mastering any meditation practice is a conscious meeting with each thought as if it were with an old acquaintance. The next stage is a recognition of various knots in the mind's thinking and other thought-loops which simply unravel themselves on their own, just watch. The last stage is an awareness of self that is so deep that thoughts become foreign to your true nature and they exit as soon as they enter. At first, the mind will wander very frequently. One of the first things that are obvious from practicing meditation is that thoughts don’t stop. The mind ceaselessly labels and tells stories about arising emotions, sensations, sense perceptions, and on and on. Each time it does this, note where the mind wandered to and immediately return awareness back to the breath. Don’t think of it as starting over, it is simply just beginning again, a return to freedom. The strongest manifestation of power within the human body is the breath. Tuning in with the breath allows consciousness to connect with the larger energies of the universe.

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- jace anderson

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