It really seems as though no one takes the time to rest anymore? And I don't mean just sleeping. I mean resting. Being. Not doing much. Relinquishing built up tension. And not TV.
If you feel like you never stop even when you are still, if you feel as though life is pushing you from here to there then I have a very special gift for you today.
I'm Going To Teach You How To Just Be. With Your SELF.
The Most Simple But Powerful Tool In The World For Stress Defusion
One of most favourite mindfulness teachers Candace O'Denver (founder of the Great Freedom Organisation) says: Short Moments Of Peace Repeated Many Time Makes Life Easy.
When I first read her work and listened to her audio 10 years ago it literally took me weeks to understand the concept of doing 'taking moments of peace' - just because you could. This was a total foreign concept to me. I kept pestering my yoga teacher with a million questions and tried to complicate the hell out of the idea that stopping and being, learning to observe instead of entangling with everything, could really be very powerful for stress release. I thought if it was this simple - why aren't we all doing it?
The issue wasn't the concept of mindfulness, it was like I was struggling with giving myself permission to take time out here and there. Like that if I stopped the world would stop turning or something. Like if I wasn't busy doing all day long or thinking constantly about my next move that somehow I wouldn't be achieving anything. When I finally grasped the concept of being able to observe and be it was like being hit with a baseball bat.
The concept was so damn simple and it had been available to me all those years yet I never knew it existed. All it involved was switching from doing to watching. That was it!
I almost felt ripped off that something as simple as mindfulness, short moments of peace or taking time to enter into a state of relaxation without really having to try had never been taught to me before? Like in school? Why didn't people know about
"With Mindfulness you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment" Thich Nhat Hanh
How We Trained Ourselves Out Of Presence
Something interesting that Candace talks about is how we have become 'cognitive beings'. And that it takes atleast 7 years to train a mind into being solely cognitive. So I'd say that the first 7 years of school would do the trick! We are taught from age 5 to move away from dreaming and being and to concentrate.
We are taught to: Focus. Learn. Write. Do. Strive. Be Better. Have more. Do more.
And if you do really well at concentrating (exercising your cognitive brain) we'll reward you with gold stars, trophies and awards. And so on it goes all the way to the end of university. Study more, learn more, process more and you'll get a great car and a high paying job. Well done you've made it in societies eyes. Meanwhile along the way we've lost our ability to just be, to relax, to observe life and feel connected to OUR SELF.
The problem with being solely cognitive is that you are only using one part of your mind. In Yoga we believe that there are 16 parts to the mind. Broken into 4 main categories. And then there is you, who you really are at the core.
It goes something like this...
Understand The Difference Between Mind & Self
Citta: Perceptions of our Experience.
This is where we perceive our own conscious world. It is our basic mental consciousness. Like looking through an eye glass or telescope. It is the tool through which we perceive our external world. Everyone has a unique view of the world and it's made up of what we have sensed, experienced and processed over time....
Manas: Sensory or Processing Mind. Consciousness of the lower mind.
What you sense (all your senses telling you what you hear, see, feel, smell) is developed by your Manas. It is where thoughts and emotions live. If you've ever heard of the term 'monkey mind' or mind chatter; this is an overdeveloped manas and it can drive your Citta or perceptions of the world to be vastly different to what is the actual in reality. It can also lead you to believe that you are 'this or that' and life is 'this way or that way' making up wonderful stories and beliefs to support those perceptions. When emotion gets involved you really start to feel that what you think is real. Because you can feel it. It can lead you away from your true nature or who you really are if it is not towards peace.
It is derived from the root words aham, meaning “self,” and kara, meaning “to do with” or “created thing.” It is sometimes called "the instrument of the spirit" and can lead to undesirable feelings such as pride, jealousy and hate. The ego is largely best buddies with the Manas or thinking mind. So if the thinking mind is taught to think that I should compete, do more and be better than others then you are likely going to create an ego or personality or identity that thinks this is a good thing. And supports it. It's why we compare ourself to others. Constantly.
The yogi's believed that we needed to shed the ego, the created identity that we have of ourselves - the one we've created to survive in the world and not our true nature - if we were to find peace within and peace in our communities and world. The problem with a strong ego, is that it tells us we are better or separate from others rather than feeling as though we are all connected to each other, all equal and all apart of something greater than ourselves and striving to support each other and the world so that it can flourish. It breeds competitiveness and greed and a 'me first' or 'my way is better' mentality. And it is this kind of mentality that has kicked off world wars and driven humans to do atrocious things to each other and their planet. All in the name of 'me and I before thinking of 'all'. There are whole nations that hold strong beliefs about 'being right' and they believe it so much that they are willing to kill for it. This is a collective diseased ego.
The positive side of the ego is when you identity is a reflection of your true nature. To have that you need to train the 'monkey mind' to see what is not what it perceives. And this is achieved through mindfulness and meditation.
Buddhi is a Sanskrit term derived from the root, budh, which means "to know" or "to be awake." Therefore, buddhi refers to intellect, wisdom and the power of the mind to understand, analyze, discriminate and decide. The Buddha was the 'intelligent one'. When we learn to observe we learn to discriminate instead of buying into our senses or thoughts. The buddhi is always seeking truth. When we take moments of peace many times we are strengthening our ability to be wise and truly intelligent (not book smart intelligent but innately intelligent). We learn to be more understanding and we build our intuition. When your intuition is at work, that part of you that says 'I don't get a good feeling about _________' this is your buddhi. The all knowing seeker of truth within you. When we don't listen to that part of ourselves we always regret it after. To be able to hear it clearly we need to ditch our ego and learn to still the thinking mind.
Your Atman is not actually a part of your mind, it is you. Who you really are. Your atman is your inner self or true self - we all have one. And this inner self is a reflection of or connected to our source or eternal consciousness or to simplify it - all living things. The atman is the centre, like the centre of the wheel, and the parts of the mind above are like the spokes of the wheel. We are always seeking time with our true self, who we are beyond the personality we have created, beyond the thoughts and the feelings and even beyond our need to seek truth or the meaning of life. When we rest in a state of complete awareness, peace or mindfulness - full awake - we are touching that place. That part of ourselves that is beyond our conscious perceptions, ideas, beliefs, feelings, judgements and all the other clutter. We are simply being with ourSELVES.
Think of your mind like a ferris wheel. You are at the centre. Each carriage is simple a reflection of you are.
How To Train The Monkey Mind - Steps To Short Moments Of Peace
If you want to live your life peacefully you have to train the monkey mind. It doesn't mean that you will never have thoughts again or never feel difficult emotions. It means that you will direct your mind towards moments of peace so that the sum of all those moments will naturally equal feeling more at peace.
Mindfulness requires practice. It's simple and powerful but not always easy.
Tool 1 - Watch What You Are Doing
Simply the best way that I have found to practice mindfulness is to start with watching and observing, whilst fully awake and active, your own experience. Judging/commenting on/mind chatter is different to observing yourself.
For example if you are washing the dishes then you need to be with the dishes and observe the suds, observe your hands in the water, observe the feeling of the water, observe the smells and the sounds. Watching and observing is different to doing. You are simply enquiring into the experience like a newborn child seeing it for the first time. You can be doing and also be observing.
How many times have you driven somewhere and not remembered anything at all about the trip? You might have driven the whole way to work and not have even realised you were driving because you were completely entangled in your list of to do's for that day. For this reason I made driving my first mindful exercise. I would 100% focus on driving. Feeling the steering wheel, feeling the seat, noticing every other car, consciously indicating - anything at all that kept me present. I started to notice amazing scenery that was passing me by. I started to arrive to work 100% present and I felt lighter, happier and ready to give as opposed to already tired from all the things that were coming that day.
So your first exercise is to pick one normally mundane life exercise and do it 100%.
Tool 2 - Look Up
My second fastest way to get present is to find the sky. Literally look up. If I catch my mind going 100 miles an hour I stop, I ground my feet into the floor I find my body and I look up. The sky is so vast and open and a constant reminder of the nature, space and abundance of opportunity available to us in every moment. It reminds we are apart of something greater than ourselves. I watch the clouds for a while, I observe the blue or the grey and I just observe and breathe. I be with the sky until I have softened and just surrendered for a moment.
Tool 3 - 10 Life Changing Breaths
As often as you can throughout the day, find your breath. The breath is our ever lasting self relaxation inbuilt mechanism. It's always there. So if you are rushing and your breath is restricted. Stop. Wherever the breath goes, especially if you have the intention to be present with it, the mind follows. All that's needed is 10 very long breaths and your ability to choose to stay with the breath from the beginning to the middle to the end 10 times. You will instantly feel your shoulders soften, your gaze soften and a little space between thoughts. If your mind wanders, find your breath over and over again. This will become a very natural habit throughout the day if you just do it a few times when in need of a moment of peace.
Tool 4 - Try My Simple Free Mindfulness Meditation
Simply the best way to train your monkey mind is to keep it still for longer and longer periods of time. Like putting a puppy on a leash. So I have a little gift for you today, a simple and easy mindfulness meditation. Simply head to my FREE MEDITATION page.
Please share your comments and experiences with me below on all things mindfulness!
I hope you have a present day !