Mindfulness with Sitara Morgenster

Tag: 12 minute mindfulness

Judgements

You know this already; that the “father of modern mindfulness” Jon Kabat-Zin, says that mindfulness meditation “is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

The reason I’m bringing this up (again), is to focus on one of the elements of this definition today: the non-judgemental part.

Because for most of us, the non-judgemental mindset is not a destination reached overnight, and can cause grief for many a mindfulness practitioner. Especially as almost all of use have been trained in an extremely judgemental (=competitive) schooling systems.

So the non-judgemental, accepting part of mindfulness meditation will require a possibly long time of noticing the judgements in your mind flying thick and fast.

Observing them is the key here. It’s as simple as that.


When we bargain

When you find yourself bargaining with your mindfulness practice, ask yourself why.

Bargaining with the teacher or method is one of the first things that happens in mindfulness introductory courses. (And, often, we continue bargaining with ourselves every single time we plan to sit down and practice.) We have read that mindfulness helps people cope with life in a hectic world, and often this gets translated into preconceived ideas about how or what mindfulness works, what exactly it is or how it should be done. “Can’t I go for a walk in nature instead of practising 12 minutes of sitting mindfulness meditation a day?” “I like practising lying down with soft music playing in the background”. “I’m too restless to sit down and focus on my breathing or do a body scan”.
THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT!!!
The whole point is that we always need one crutch or another to be at ease. Yet nothing beats just sitting quietly with your eyes closed (initially) and your attention on your breath, your body, your physical, mental, emotional and “environmental” sensations, within and without. A large part of formal sitting practice is to train the ability to simply breathe and observe no matter what the internal or external turmoil. Observe that turmoil, that restlessness, those crazy thoughts. It’s the most exhilarating thing to be able to do. You can just sit there and “watch” it all go on and not having to run away, or stop it, or quench it, or distract yourself from it, or act on it, or fix it, or plan it away. Halleluja! That’s your peace, right there. This is not about relaxing. But it will relax you. No matter how “messy” your mindfulness session seems. No matter how brief it is. It’s your eye of your storm. Try it. Do it. Even if at first it is only for 1 minute.


Mindfulness “not working”? Do it anyway. Here’s why

Even if you feel mindfulness meditation is “not working” (whatever that means!), do it anyway. The benefits occur, even if you feel they don’t. Here’s a reminder of the benefits of mindfulness meditation from the Mindfulness Works Newsletter today:

“How mindfulness works to reduce stress and anxiety

Practising mindfulness meditation will automatically and quite naturally cause us to relax more often; it does this by triggering the relaxation response. When we are sitting in one place for a period of time and focusing on our body or our breath and we naturally start to relax, we find that:

•    the breathing slows
•    our blood pressure drops
•    our heart rate slows
•    oxygen in our blood increases
•    our muscles relax
•    the mind starts to soften and/or feel more spacious.

Over time and with consistent practice, both the structure and the chemistry of our brain changes so that we are relaxed and at ease more often. This happens automatically and, in fact, it shows us that relaxation will happen even if our mind seems very busy and full of thoughts.”

So keep practising, especially during these big changes in daily life all over the world because of…. you-know-what!

And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email via the contact page, or leave a comment!

~

If you’d like a guided meditation to use, you could check out this open awareness guided mindfulness meditation recording on Soundcloud.com, made by me. Or choose from the heaps more, wonderful Mindfulness Works NZ facilitators, put Mindfulness Works in the search box and find a voice you like.
I also recommend having this in the background if you don’t live in nature (and are lucky to have unlimited data/wifi): 8 hours of bird and water sounds (on Youtube)

How to “mindfulness” in 12 easy steps

Mindfulness Practice 12 point Cheat Sheet

  1. Mindfulness practice = sitting silently, watching feelings, body-sensations and thoughts come and go, not hooking into any of them
  2. If your thinking or any other natural phenomena of the body/mind are too overwhelming, put your attention on your natural breathing rhythm
  3. You cannot do this wrong, despite what your opinion about the quality or outcomes of your practice want to tell you or despite what anyone else says
  4. It’s impossible to stop thinking. The mind is designed to think, just as the stomach wants to eat. But you can decide what focus to give your mind
  5. To practise between 12-20 minutes a day – sufficient for maximum benefit. Perhaps start with less to build up “sitting stamina”. Extend for your own good reasons
  6. Mindfulness practice delivers benefits automatically! Practice to take a closer look at the life you live and are, to develop a greater intimacy with life itself
  7. Mindfulness knowledge is experiential. It increases through continuing practice. Not by courses or reading about it (although of course there’s nothing wrong with that!)
  8. Nothing needs further addressing or fixing or solving, the practice itself is sufficient. You will know to seek help or share or write or explore when you need to
  9. Practising can result in feeling uncomfortable, but it’s not a sign something is wrong, and you will still reap the (scientifically proven) benefits
  10. Mindfulness is a perpetually growing process in which we begin to appreciate our unique inner and outer surroundings in life, whatever they may be
  11. The changes you may wish to make on the basis of your mindful connection with yourself will come from your insight; not reaction, effort or force or outer authority
  12. Mindfulness is common-sense mind/body hygiene like brushing your teeth, but it will not “get you anywhere”. There is nowhere to get. You are already “it
Photo: Mathieu Cheze via Unsplash

p.s.: If you want to download this 12 point Mindfulness Practice Cheat Sheet as a one page, pretty looking, printable PDF, click here. There is a little catch though: it will make you sign up for my email newsletter. But I don’t email very often and you can also easily unsubscribe.

#NZ Lockdown Day 1

Writing (as) meditation

Find a pen/pencil/felt tip and a piece of paper, a journal or a notebook. Find a place to sit, lie down or lean against. Check in with your body by feeling. Relax. Write a few comments in bullet points about what you’ve noticed, or felt or how you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally. If you feel nothing or numb, write that, too. Set your timer to 12 minutes. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Gently close your eyes and follow (watch, observe, witness your breathing with your mind (attention, focus, imagination). In, out, in, out, in, out, and so on. Keep going, in your own rhythm. Simply notice. Don’t change your breathing patterns, let your body do its thing. If your mind wanders, simply bring it back. Do this for as long as you can but no longer than until the alarm of your timer goes off. Write a few comments in bullet points about what you’ve noticed, or felt or how you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally. That’s it. For now. Ready to go about your day or night. Doing this once a day is sufficient for beneficial effects, but of course you can do it more often when you have the time. (c) Sitara 2020 Click here to use the sound file version of this instruction (takes 2 minutes to listen to).

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