The mind is always racing, and always going, and always working. Its a gift and a curse.
In week 4 at the Yoga Barn we covered how the mind is always working behind the scenes to build a picture of the world as best as it can. Its always updating that picture with the new information it receives attaching body sensations and emotions to them. It then anticipates the effects of the future but it can only do this with the past experience it has had.
This is why events seen in the minds eye can be very different from person to person: we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are!
Our thoughts are just mental events that carry our perception of the world but have the power to change our mood from moment to moment. So what we need to do is notice the thoughts but not getting caught up in the stories. Easier said than done hey! But of course we have a tool for this!
The meditation we learned in week 4 was The Sounds and Thoughts Meditation to help us sense when the body and mind are signalling that things are turning negative and, maybe, self-attacking. This is quite often what happens when we’re feeling stressed or vulnerable and the self-criticism voice starts in our head. We never hear the voice of compassion! Of course then our mind starts trawling through passed experiences supporting the self-criticism we’ve thrown at ourselves….. What’s the matter with me? Something has to change. I must never fail. I can’t stand this anymore etc.
In the meditation we’re taught to listen to the everyday sounds but trying not to label them. Take them in as if it is the first time we’re hearing them. Letting them come and go. Trying not to attach any thoughts to them. Then after a few minutes we let our thoughts come and go. We sat back and watched them. Trying not to get caught up in them and trying not to have attachment to them. Just treating them as the sounds we were listing to. This is a very effective way to learn how to let go of your thoughts whilst meditating. We were told to imagine we were sitting on a river bank looking at the river or stream moving along. Every now and then a thought would pass by. Look at it but let it go with the flow of the stream. If you find yourself caught up in the thought, we had wondered in to the stream itself and were now wet! We congratulated ourselves for waking up and slowly walked back out of the stream and sat on the side once more.
This is actually very similar to what I do but instead I imagine I’m sitting in front of a TV that’s powered off. Every now and then someone would walk by and switch it on. When I notice this has happened I would lean over and switch it off. Then focus on the blank screen. This for me is the quickest and most effective way I’ve found to slip very quickly in to deep meditation.
Also we learned the 3 step breathing meditation that takes just 3 minutes! Most say this is the most powerful meditations of them all!
- Step 1: Becoming aware
- Step 2: gathering and focusing attention
- Step 3: expanding attention
Imagine an hour glass. The top is you opening your attention and gently acknowledge whatever is entering and leaving awareness. The narrowing of the hourglass is you focusing your attention on the breath in the lower abdomen focusing on the physical sensations of breathing. The base of the hourglass is you opening your awareness. Here you are opening to life as it is, moment by moment.
This is great if you are to give a speech or about to do something that makes you feel a little uneasy in a present moment. Remember its just your thoughts of a past experience that’s making you feel like this and this time it probably wont actually be anything like it was then! Take a moment to do the hour glass meditation and realize every moment is different. Then go rewrite history for yourself! 🙂
To recap on the above… Don’t take the world as you see it as it might not be how it actually is! Take time to absorb your surroundings for the moment, not for the thoughts racing through your mind. You might just be missing a special very gift that has been placed right in front of you!