I’ve always struggled with meditation and this has bothered me for some time as I know the research out there shows how powerful meditation is to regain your health, manage pain, aid in dealing with emotions and just with life in general – and importantly, how meditation helps you take control of your thought. The truth is I either fall asleep during meditation attempts (not the good look) or I manage to keep my poker face in a class setting as my mind races around making a mental to-do list and arguing with myself whilst worrying about some other thing at the same time. You might imagine this isn’t particularly relaxing and clearly, I have no control over my mind!
As caring, mature beings we (hopefully) know that to live effective and fulfilling lives we need to be able to control what we think and at the very least have a filter between our thought and our words. Buddha said “The mind is everything. What you think, you become”. And it seems like Buddha was a great guy, because he also provided a method to learn control of the mind – it was translated into English as meditation, but I guess the more popular and modern word is mindfulness.
“The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” – Buddha
Today I participated in a “mindfulness” workshop at the Perth Meditation Centre. The word “mindfulness” usually makes me cringe a little, along with the words “organic” and “natural” when describing food or medicine. But I started reading a book called The 5-Minute Meditator and I got a little curious. 5 minutes? You can’t be serious.
In today’s workshop, that is just what we learnt. There really is a way, with practice, to quickly relax the body, still the mind and reduce stress levels, and five minutes will do the trick. Most impressively, I learnt the tools that I can use to still my mind, label thoughts and decide whether to buy into them or let them go, and move into a peaceful place – and I’m not kidding, this takes you less than five minutes.
The best part was, I didn’t fall asleep! I discovered that mindfulness is not some new-age word with sparkly crystals hanging off it – what it actually means is just doing and being right now; pay attention and acknowledge what is happening in your body and mind. You really have to think about this, not try to empty your mind or think of nothing – both prospects which have me twitching within seconds. The techniques can be incorporated into your daily life, such as waiting to cross the road, standing in line, or before you start a new task or pick up a ringing phone.
I thought I was relaxed when I went into the room where the course was held, but it is amazing how much tension I discovered I hold just in my face and shoulders alone. Leaving the course I felt really good; I’m inspired to practice and try to remember to incorporate this new tool into my life as the benefits were obvious and they are cumulative.
Maybe I will now have the grounding and presence of mind to come up with enough Pina Colada recipes with all the pineapples I have received lately.