When we are using our minds to try to control our future --- you know, ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, what happens to our quality of life?
Stepping into the Present Moment is what we call being MINDFUL. It's not complicated in the way of understanding, but it may prove to be one the most difficult practices we will ever endure in our lives. However, with all things difficult, the practice of mindfulness can cultivate this beautiful unfolding of gifts, that we may have no knowledge of, until we begin to walk this path. There so many articles, videos,texts and religious dogma about what cultivates happiness. But truly, the answer already lies within each one of us. It never leaves, It can be tapped into at anytime, It is free and it is the key to what most people are searching for.
Meditation is this practice. Of returning ourselves back into the moment, seeing all just as it is, accepting it, bringing breath to it and then letting it go. With no judgement on how many times that thought, emotion or memory returns over minds, we just become dedicated to this practice. Just again --- Seeing, Feeling, Accepting, Breathing and Letting it Go. This is living in the PRESENT.
It is an accepting all that is, whether good or bad, happy or sad, and knowing that it is all part of this transient/fleeting moment of right now. It is one of life's greatest teachings of the impermanence of all things. What would surrendering and having gratitude for exactly what is, right now, no matter the circumstance, allow us to achieve in our lives? How amazing would it be, to begin to see, the natural chaotic state within of ourselves and our world as just what is. Connecting to this space and accepting, without preconceived thought or emotion we may find that something truly amazing begins to happen within ourselves and the world around us. We begin to open up to the truth. Of ourselves, the world, the earth and all of it sufferings.
Little steps over time in this practice, allows us to slowly free ourselves from this agitated mind state, returning ourselves to our natural resting state where joy, bliss, contentment and awareness begins. Over that last couple of weeks we looked at the human hormone system and how negatively impacted are bodies become due to our real of perceived stressors in our life. We learned how the foods we eat, can work either for us, or against us. Preventing illness or increasing the resistance to balance. However, it is not about protocols and rigidity. I don't care how many rules you follow to eating “well” or exercising “enough” --- in the end, if our minds never rest, the experience of lasting happiness is really a fleeting dream. We end up moving from one goal to the next, building a little stronger, eating a little cleaner, making a little bit more money. But this searching never stops and the aimless searching for that "thing" that we really need for happiness, that always seems elude us. Like that carrot dangling a little further out of our reach. The mind never becomes satisfied with what it creates, if you heart wasn't in it.
When we are using our minds to try to control our future --- you know, ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, what happens to our quality of life? Well, I pose a question for you to ask yourself, when has continuing to rerun an event that has already happened, or worry endlessly about a circumstance or something in the future ever satisfied you? To hold so tight within us as an expectation to how we wished it were or how it would be creates a recipe for regret or disappointment. Because within us, it creates expectation, and with that expectation becomes a holding --- of attachment to anything that doesn't actually exist. It creates a reality in the mind that is not true in the here and now.
Meditation is this practice of returning ourselves back into the moment, quieting the mind, allowing us to make peace with the attachments. Clearing the path to then see all that is, as what is. Accepting everything without judgement and then quietly letting it go. In our practice, we will find that our minds will naturally begin to wander. This does not mean you are not a "good" meditator. This IS the practice. Whatever thought, emotion or memory returns, just again. Paying Witness, Feeling, Breathing and Letting it Go. Connecting to this space and accepting, without preconceived thought or emotion we may find that something truly amazing begins to happen within ourselves.
This is living mindfully. Paying precise, nonjudgmental attention to all the details of our experience as it arises and subsides. It is the practice of our minds that doesn't reject anything. And what results is, this surrender to no longer run or fight those experiences we find difficult, but rather just to practice just being able to just be with them. Equally, bringing mindfulness to pleasant experiences that same lesson is instilled. Isn't it true that many times in our life we also struggle to just simply be present with happiness? When things become "too good to be true" do we fear losing it, How many of us, including myself have caught ourselves turning away from happiness in protection and fear from what it would be like to have it removed. Practicing mindfulness in our happy moments allow us to experience them much deeper as well.
I have a question to ask, when do we witness the most peace and happiness in our lives? Think of memories in which you were happy and then ask why were you happy. It might be difficult to come up with an answer at first, but if we take a moment to sit and ponder on this, is it not that all experiences of true joy and happiness are built on the same foundation? A place where our minds became quiet and we were connected and just being ourselves in the moment....
Mindfulness allows us show up for our lives. We no longer miss out on experience (painful or joyful), by being distracted or in wishing for things to be different. Instead, if something needs to be changed we become present enough to understand what needs to be done. Being mindful is not a substitute for actually participating in our lives. In fact, the more mindful we are, the more skillful we become at being compassionate people in our words and actions.
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION AND IT'S EFFECTS ON THE MIND, BODY, SPIRIT
HELPS US REMEMBER OUR NATURAL STATE
In fuller enjoyment of the here and now
Dissolving expectations to the future
Makes peace with the past
Finding gratitude for what is, right now
Giving us permission to experience more freedom, happiness and peace.
Increases our ability to cope with distressing emotions
Allows us to stay present in joyous moments without fear
Allows us to adapt with change and transitions in life with more ease
Shifts our physiology into the Parasympathetic State (State of balance and relaxation)
Removes the resistance for our bodies to move into Homeostasis and heal itself.
- Decreasing Blood Cortisol levels, Reducing Resting Heart Rate, Reducing Blood Pressure, Regulating Blood Sugar, Releasing Endorphins in the Brain
Causes Physical changes in the Brain (via neuroplasticity, rewiring neural connections)
CHANGES IN THE BRAIN
The cells and neurons in the brain are constantly making new connections and disrupting old ones based on response to stimuli, this by researchers is called neuroplasticity. Meditation affects the neural circuits of the brain, which in turn affects how we respond to situations. It also affects the actual structure of our brains — thickening some areas and making others less dense. This can permanently regulate our emotional responses. Physical Changes in the Brain.
- Increases Cortical Thickness - This was particularly true for brain areas associated with attention, and sensory processing.
- Increases Grey Matter in the Brain - Studies show that meditators have larger gray matter volumes than non-meditators in brain areas that are associated with emotional regulation and response control. MRI studies have also found structural differences in regions of the brainstem that are known to be concerned with mechanisms of cardiorespiratory control. Compared to a control group participation in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme resulted in increased grey matter in the left hippocampus, a brain area strongly involved in learning and memory.
Allows more Energy or Spirit to channel through us
Allows more openness to experiences
Heightens our awareness to energetic subtleties
Assists us in connecting more with our Higher Mind (Intuition or gut feelings)
Reducing Mental Health Conditions (stress/anxiety/addiction/depression/eating disorders)
Improve Memory and Cognitive function
Reduce Blood Pressure
Regulate our Blood Sugar
Change our Pain Response
Reduce Stress Hormone Levels Improve Cellular Health
Strengthen Our Immune System
Aid in Muscle Recovery after Exercise
More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies were conducted at many US and international universities and research centers, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Yale Medical School, and UCLA Medical School.