Sunday night there were 11 of us in a yoga studio filled with windows, lit softly with candles.
The sun was almost down and the rain began.
I was in my Sunday night meditation class.
As we sat on our cushions and our teacher taught us about various meditation practices, the thunder began.
I looked around the room of people who were there to learn how to meditate.
Most people hoped meditation would help reduce their stress.
I was there because the meditation teacher is brilliant and I love learning.
The other students were listening intently to our teacher, while I chose to take a few moments to appreciate the moment.
The sight of the rain and lightening outside our window.
The glow of the candles in our room. The warmth of the air around me.
The cushion and mat supporting me. The sound of the thunder. The wisdom being taught to my peers.
I felt grateful for being there. I reflected on how happy I was that I have the skills to live mindfully and appreciate these small moments. To me, this is one of the greatest gifts of mindful living.
This week I was teaching a new client how to meditate.
We talked about sitting postures, what experiences tend to frustrate new students and different types of formal meditation practices.
I knew I was working with someone who was skeptical of mindfulness meditation. This is what I love – it is all the more delightful when they start to see how powerful it is for their health and happiness.
“Okay, I understand the process, but how does this apply to my life?” he asked.
“Great question” I replied.
Here is what I said…
“Formal meditation practices teaches you how to focus on an object (the breath, an object, sounds, walking, eating and so on).
When you are focusing on that object your mind will wander – that’s what just it does.
When you realize your mind has wandered to some story you telling yourself (eg: things you have to do or things you forgot to do) and you bring your focus back to the object, you are making changes in your brain – you are meditating.
Formal meditation becomes powerful when we can take our ability to recognize our thoughts in our day to day life.
Formal meditation gives us a little bit of space between our thoughts and with this space we can play a little.
By play, I mean we can question our thoughts instead of being absorbed by them.”
Here is the example I used:
Today as I walked through the office I passed candy, chocolates and cake.
Without mindfulness my thoughts would have been like this…
Mmmm chocolate and cake for us! Great, where are the plates. Do I have enough time to eat a piece before my next client? Yes.
Ohhh that icing looks good. Forks, ah yes, fork and plate.
I would scoop my cake and head to my office to eat it before my next client.
The results: Eating food I didn’t need or plan to have. And we have this type of stuff in our office daily, so it could get scary!
With mindfulness, my thoughts went like this…
Oh look, more cake and chocolate here. It looks like it would be sweet and tasty. I could have a small piece….
THEN I RECOGNIZED MY THOUGHTS AND PLAYED WITH THEM…
…but then I would have a sugar rush and crash and probably not want to go for my run after work. What does my body really need right now? Yes, my fruit and Greek yogurt will make me feel better in the long run. Some herbal tea would be great as well.
The results: Healthy choices made with intention. No sugar crash. Lots of energy. Great run after work!
This, my friend, is mindful living at its best! To live mindfully is to be aware of thoughts as they come up and to play with them a little. It means to think about thinking. To not be consumed by thoughts.
My client understood completely….. I may have just converted one more….:)