“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
– Ping Fu
How your mind interprets events can have a huge effect on your overall stress levels.
Take a moment to read through the following statements, and make a quick mental note of your immediate reaction to each scenario.
Note: As best you can, aim not over-think your answers, just be honest with yourself.
A person you went on a date with recently doesn’t call you back. Do you:
a) Take this as a sign that the romance is cooling and the object of your attention no longer finds you interesting, or
b) Think that the person has been busy with other life commitments
You get a speeding fine in the mail, and think:
a) The local government is out to get you, and raise revenue, or
b) You need to slow down a tad
When faced with honest, “negative” human emotions (including your own), such as sadness, fear or anger, do you:
a) See such displays as signs of weakness, or
b) See them as signs of courage
It isn’t uncommon for most people’s initial response to be a negative interpretation. Often our reaction to any given situation happens so quickly and unconsciously that we aren’t even aware that we have had a reaction. It’s this lack of awareness that can keep some people in a self-perpetuating merry-go-round of a life that’s filled with worry, anxiety and tension. Not fun, really.
However, practicing meditation, in particular mindfulness meditation, is a vehicle for increased awareness. With time, you can learn to acknowledge difficult feelings and thoughts, see their origins more clearly, and as a result experience deeper states of acceptance, inner-peace and wisdom. And this friends, is why most people visit The Nurtured Mind, keen as mustard to learn all about mindfulness meditation, and how it can vanquish their lives of any stress and anxiety once and for all. Yes! The Promised Land is near, the heavens are parting way and the angels up above are beginning to sing… If. Only.
Before any students go deep diving into the dark, uncharted realms of their own minds, we like to advise them of two key points:
- “The only way out, is through.” This is a popular saying in meditation circles, and basically it implies that, if you want to ‘free yourself’ from any undesirable thoughts, emotions or physical sensations you really need to acknowledge that they exist first. But start slow. There is really no need (nor is it desirable) to start exploring how you react to stress by purposefully beginning to think of the most stressful aspects of your life. You’re far better off bringing to mind a mild annoyance you’ve encountered recently. For example, the same barrister at your favorite café forgot to add the sugar in your take-away for the second time this week, or your internet connection has been playing up all day (insert any other 1st world problem you may be facing, here!)
- Then sit back, and watch what happens. Just watch. Don’t get caught up in rehashing the past or rehearsing the future. Notice any mental activity and body sensations that occur as though they are happening to (in) someone else, and you are just a curious observer. Sometimes it can be helpful to see your role in this activity as that of a diligent internal researcher, taking mental notes of whatever happens when it happens.
When the mind wanders away from the task of watching itself (and it will), you might suddenly realise you’ve been thinking about dinner for the last few minutes, or how to get one-up on the barrister, or how to speed up your internet connection.. Worry not. Just notice what has drawn your attention away, and then gently remind yourself that you are meditating. The more you do this, the stronger your practice becomes, and as a consequence, the less stressed you become. In time, you will want to dig a little deeper and ponder a little longer on the things in your life (past, present or future) that cause you grief, knowing that you can do so without getting freaked out in the process.
Sure, at times it can be incredible difficult to seemingly sit in a hall filled with mirrors reflecting all of ‘you’; face-to-face with your fear, shame, guilt and other unwelcome but familiar internal visitors. Even for seasoned practitioners, remaining an impartial witness to these excruciating states of mind can at times be a stretch, and it’s said that Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa likened this task to having to sit and hear one insult after another with not even a hint of retaliation, regret or remorse. It’s no wonder then, that sometimes all we want to do is run, hit eject or simply avoid the non-negotiable instruction of mindfulness meditation: sit back and watch, without attachment. Even if this means being a partial witness to all of our neuroses and worrying thoughts that from time to time, like to parade around inside our very own heads. Perhaps this is where the word ‘mind-ful’ comes from? Now, that’s a thought.
So why not ask yourself, right now in this very moment, how are you? Are you tense, and therefore grabbing at the moment? Are you too tired to enjoy it? Rushing forward with expectation. Resisting something?
Why not take a few moments, right now, to relax your body and clear your mind, and meet the next moment with ease?
Don’t know how? For tips on how to make meditation an easy and enjoyable part of your day click here to contact us!