Basic Mindfulness Part 2: Living in a Mindful Way

Being Mindful has been a question for me. After my three day Mindfulness retreat, I am more Mindful about the things I have not been mindful about. What the heck does that mean…??? Well, read a bit further.

I learned at the retreat what I think I already knew but had not learned how this feels or how to incorporate being more mindful into my habit driven lifestyle. No surprise, the key to being more mindful is to be aware and “present” by paying attention to your breath. Again no surprise, I learned that being more mindful works better when I focus on only one thing at a time. For example, drive focused without other distractions. (More examples to follow.) This focusing on one thing at a time is kind of challenging in our 24/7, multi-tasking world, but it certainly makes sense.

We practiced slower walking and breathing, awareness and appreciation of nature, and more meditations. The first two key ingredients to being more mindful (with 10 listed) where 1. to be aware of myself and my environment and 2. was to view each activity in your day with “Beginners Mind” and the feeling of wonderment. I liked these first two a lot. In fact, I really enjoyed all 10 ingredients in the book we used as a text but found number 6 a bit more challenging for me to fully appreciate and understand, let alone to practice. Number 6 was to live in “Equanimity.” I can barely spell Equanimity let alone know how to practice it. After consultation with my retreat group, its leader Chau Yoder (who is amazing) and my special Guru spiritual consultant, Paula Forget, I believe I am much closer to knowing what this is all about.

Equanimity is a very important, but a challenging (for me,) part of the Mindfulness life. This term refers to being able to look at and appreciate experiences in your life without getting caught in the “drama” of the experience. Paula Forget suggested that I look at each experience from the higher perspective of a “spiritual being” caught in a mortal body. As I look from a higher perspective, I may not “judge” the event, individual or experience but just see, perhaps feel it, as a neutral activity that can be curious and interesting. When I am successful, I may even feel empathy and appreciation for the circumstances which have lead to this experience and more fully understand my “lesson” or “challenge” from my participation. Even if this lesson is painful, which as a human I will feel, I can still feel appreciation for what I can learn from this challenge on my pilgrimage through life. This detachment does NOT mean you do not care or feel the physical or emotional pain. It means that you are not locked up without finding the higher perspective regarding how to celebrate (?) this difficult challenge.

One more example and an exercise you can attempt… Hold a tangerine. Look at it fully. Appreciate the work of people who delivered this fruit to you and the forces of nature which allowed this fruit to grow. Feel the tangerine. Scratch the peel and smell the tangerine. Slowly and carefully peel the tangerine, perhaps keeping the peel in one piece. Pull the first section out slowly and place this in your mouth. Breathe! Feel the tangerine section in your mouth. Move it around with your tongue. Press it against your teeth or slowly take a bite. Breathe! Taste the sweetness. Appreciate the sun and forces which developed the sugar of this fruit. Slowly swallow the first section and then slowly repeat this for as much of this tangerine as you wish. If you were not distracted and were focused upon this exercise, attempt this at your next meal… Try to not speak for 10 minutes while you eat… Be mindful. Breathe slowly. Appreciate.

Full List of 10 Qualities of Mindfulness are:
These are Pages 18-20 of Laurie Cameron’s book: “The Mindful Day, Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm and Joy From Morning to Evening.”

1. Awareness
2. Beginners Mind
3. Acceptance
4. Insight
5. Impermanence (Life is temporary and so are all the challenges…)
6. Equanimity
7. Interconnection
8. Compassion
9. Gratitude
10. Joy

Special thanks to Chau Yoder for these helpful acronyms:

Consider C.A.R.E. when dealing with life’s experiences
C. Compassion
A. Appreciation
R. Respect
E. Equanimity

To Assist you with this, try P.B.S.
P. Pause
B. Breathe
S. Smile

One more tip for dealing with a situation which “Triggers” you. R.A.I.N.
R. Recognize
A. Allow
I. Investigate with Kindness
N. Nurture (Yourself and the Appreciation of this Challenge)

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Mindfulness. What Does this Mean?

Pre- Mindfulness. Early next month, I am signed up to join a “Mindfulness” retreat. There is no way I can pretend to know what Mindfulness is or where this experience will lead me. Is this a modern “fad” or strange cult coming to us from Eastern Philosophy? So, I looked it up…

Definition of mindfulness in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

1 : the quality or state of being mindful
2 : the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness

I love this definition, BUT, I clearly do not know what these strung together words really mean AND how can I possibly use this in my daily life???
“the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis” Sounds great… Very much a Buddhist philosophy, perhaps? The term, “Mindfulness” is used by many people who practice Yoga and Meditation. It is also bandied about by New-Age Mystics as if to join their club you better know the jargon (or we will look down on you and your lower level of consciousness…)

My problem, or at least, my challenge, is to “maintain a nonjudgemental state of heightened or “complete” awareness” (of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis…) How do you BE non-judgmental in a world where our language and our culture can not define anything without making comparisons (which are judgements) to define or describe an activity or thing??? Even more challenging is HOW DO YOU STAY IN THE MOMENT, when our definition of “time” makes us compare the past with the present with awareness that there will be a future??? And, what does “complete” mean in this context?

Well obviously, I have a lot to learn, or to know, or to be aware of in the moment.

I have been “Judgmental” my whole life. I was raised that way. I am good at being judgmental AND you/I like to do what you/I are/am good at! This does not make being judgmental right, as in correct (which is a judgment,) but it is my habit. A difficult example: Is the bark on a tree “Brown” or is that just a judgment??? Is that a Fact or is it just an opinion based on a judgement? Boy, I am confused and in big need of a three day mindfulness retreat.

No matter how confused you can be, YOU are still perfect! (Judgement???) The Universe can not exist without: you, your soul, and the “role” you are playing! Since we are all “one,” I am you and you are me AND YOU are a Blessing!

More on my Mindfulness challenge after I “survive” my retreat. Love me and wish me luck. No matter what, every time we raise our consciousness through our life experience, we raise ALL consciousness. And, that is a good thing! (Judgement!!!)

Though I struggle with being present and non-judgmental, I like to believe that I am striving to learn how to live more fully in this state of consciousness. My struggle is not unique. My solution, if I can find one, will be unique to me and a most worthy experience of wisdom to share… Grow and be as fully present and conscious as you can be!

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Prayer for all Masters of the Journey

God smiles upon all, as we are the pure essence of life itself.

Be we seemingly simple or complex and multi-faceted expressions, each is gifted with the extraordinary nature of the divine. 

To live our gifts, abilities, inclinations, radiance, nuance, and sparkle, is the purpose of life. 

It glorifies the unlimited forms of divine fragrance.

All carry the Masters’ beauty and power and love.

  • * * *

Each are given the divine map leading to eternal communion with the Great One where we rest.

Walk upon the path of discovery, tasting, savouring in the mystery of your destiny. 

Fill your heart with the immense awe and splendor of the universe.

Rejoice and uncover the secrets within each experience you encounter upon your way. There is no limit to the depths and heights that can be realized. 

  • * * *

You carry magnificence and uniqueness that is indispensable to the whole.

You are a Master among Masters, upon a journey unique to you, driven by your true divine nature to express beauty and love. 

  • * * *

Thank you for sharing the gifts you radiate upon your path, it benefits us all along the way.

 

Namaste.

Paula Forget, author of “Guided to the Higher Realms

Member of and Content provider for: Masters of the Journey: A Transformational Community

Being Present: Key to Mindfulness

Have you ever suffered from anxiety, fear, or major stress? If so, then the chances are good that the fear or anxiety were born out of an experience from the past, as a learned response, or from fears of some future unknown or uncontrollable event. Throughout our lives we suffer great or small traumas and our body learns to respond to similar scenarios as if we were having PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) reactions. In deed, we may have mini-PTSD responses to fearful or difficult events even if these past events were not life threatening. Most importantly, if we ruminate on past events then we are not totally “present” in our bodies, in present time. Our bodies will then attempt to make us “present” by dragging us back into the present moment with an irritating, if not worse, symptom like an anxiety attack. This symptom is not necessarily the enemy, but it is a warning sign that we are not paying attention to our bodies, in the present moment.

Fear of the unknown or the uncertainty of what can happen in the future will also trigger a symptom of fear or anxiety. Since we can not predict the future with 100% accuracy, our flight-fight response can be triggered and physical or emotional symptoms can be exacerbated. When we lose track of the present moment, our body can force us to consider the present in rude ways.

Conversely, at the heart of every stress or anxiety management technique are simple activities designed to bring us back into our bodies in the present moment and in a “positive way.” One strong example is the request to take a deep slow breath and to feel the cool air as you inhale and the warm breath as you exhale. This simple, but powerful, request asks that you release thoughts regarding the past or expectations of the future and to feel the subtle difference of a slow inhale and exhale. This act of Mindfulness can back you away from your fear or anxiety especially when this has been rehearsed enough to become a habituated pattern.

Being Present or practicing Mindfulness is easier said than done, but the concept is not difficult to understand and with practice not too difficult to learn. Being prepared to “let go” of fear, anxiety, or traumatic thoughts can be very useful and can succeed when the skill of “Being Present” has become a positive habit.

Other techniques for mindfulness would include feeling: muscles relaxing, heart rate slowing, hands and feet warming, stomach tension releasing, and sensations of slowing down of distracting thoughts. Techniques which can lead to this state of mind and body, when practiced, include: Meditations, Autogenic Training, Progressive Relaxations, Visualizations/Imagery, forms of Self-Hypnosis, Breathing techniques, Yoga/Stretching, biofeedback training, and other types of focusing and observations. The secret is to find the one that works best for you, master it, and then use it preventively on a regular basis.

Information at the Stress Education Center’s website wwww.dstress.com may prove helpful to you.