This is an ancient technique that works wonders in our modern world. Not only does it help us to relax, but it brings clarity to our busy mind. The two breathing exercises shown in this video are what are commonly taught when people come to learn meditation as a tool for increasing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a hot topic at the moment and is being taught everywhere from schools to businesses, it’s no longer a practice exclusive to monasteries and temples. People are deriving the great benefits of mindfulness, specifically by practicing mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation, more commonly known in Buddhism as Shamatha or Calm Abiding Meditation, is a technique practiced across all schools of Buddhism, though it is more favored in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Regardless of your religion or beliefs, this simple meditation technique focuses entirely on one’s breath and can therefore be practiced by everyone. (more…)
Usually, when we are suffering in some way, we habitually grasp towards things that we know have previously made us feel good. For some of us, the pick-me-up might be eating chocolate, talking to a friend or watching TV. We basically look for anything that will distract us from the unpleasantness that we are experiencing. Many times these techniques can often lift us out of our depression and we can feel mentally balanced, enough to meekly dip our toes back into the world again. However, there are also many times when we continue to feel dissatisfied. Although our chosen forms of escapism may prove effective most of the time, we can see that our ‘infallible pick-me-ups’ aren’t so reliable all of the time.
The reason for this is because objects or activities in themselves have no concrete qualities that are reliable all of the time. For instance, if we are physically sick with a cold and we have an argument with our mother, then grabbing the closest block of chocolate probably won’t send you into bliss, but into wretchedness instead. This is because the chocolate doesn’t have any inherent qualities that make it permanently wonderful. In fact, for dogs, chocolate can be poisonous!
We have to look at what is inside us that makes us want to escape the unpleasant experiences of life? Why are we so afraid to look at the situation, or even challenge it to cause us greater pain? Without having voiced it out loud, we all have a strong inner belief that life should be pleasant, and if it isn’t, then there is something wrong and we need to fix it. However, the Buddha taught in the First Noble Truth, that life is a mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and that dissatisfaction and unsatisfactory experiences are simply a part of life. So we shouldn’t feel like we’ve failed if things aren’t going so wonderfully. That is just the nature of life. (more…)
If we examine our days truthfully, most of us would agree that we tend to spend a lot of time operating on autopilot. We’re always making plans, thinking about the future, trying to complete our To-Do lists. We are so busy rushing towards the future and some perceived wonderful event that is more exciting than the present moment, that we don’t actually experience our lives. Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now says, “Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.”
How often do we drive somewhere, only to arrive at our destination and not even remember the drive? Or in great anticipation we eat our favorite meal only to realize at the end of it that we didn’t actually taste the flavors at all because we were lost in thoughts about something else? Our days are made up of many seemingly mundane events, e.g. driving, eating, cooking, washing the dishes, etc., yet these are what our days are made of, so surely there must be some way to bring some joy to these activities so we can arrive at happiness now.
Practicing mindfulness is the fastest way to live our lives more fully with happiness and wisdom. The actual practice of mindfulness involves moment to moment awareness of what is happening now, both internally and externally. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind, while externally we begin to broaden our field of awareness so that we actually take in the external environment as well, leading to a sense of spaciousness, alertness and stillness. (more…)