Mindfulness with Sitara Morgenster

Tag: mind

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.


You can rest your mind!

“You can rest your mind!”, says Stephen Archer (Nyanaviro) in Episode 1 of the preciousattention.com mindfulness podcast. Listen below, sign up for the newsletter to receive regular updates.

12 Point Mindfulness Cheat Sheet

This month my blog takes the shape of a 12-point cheat sheet, addressing some of our pre-conceived ideas about formal mindfulness practice that are floating around. You can download the free PDF via the form below the article.

  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 and be its master
  5. To practise between 12-20 minutes a day is 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’re already “it”
  13. Sitara Morgenster
  14. p.s. Download the free PDF of the 12-point Mindfulness Cheat Sheet by filling out your details below. The link will be emailed to you instantly!

    Mindfulness Cheat Sheet free PDF Download

Hanging out with your precious attention

Did you hang out with your precious attention today? Were you mostly mindful or absent-minded?

The answer is probably: “both!”

Harvard Research shows that our mind wanders, on average, 47% of the time: nearly half our lives! We spend that time thinking of what isn’t going on or propel ourselves into the future or ruminate on past events, feelings and relationships, or are busy wishing things were different right now.

This website is about mindfulness, a simple, free tool available to everyone (all you need is yourself, your attention and your breath), to profoundly enjoy each moment we’re alive.

I say free because you can teach yourself using a book or one of the many internet, app and cloud resources available for mindfulness/mediation. But you may want to spend some money on getting your practice off the ground and doing it with others in a class or retreat can have a strengthening effect on making it your habit.

What exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness Works, who I work for as a mindfulness trainer, defines it as “being present and aware at the same time”. Check out a few more other definitions, and you’ll get a feel for what mindfulness is, before you start practising it. Or, if you’re already involved in a  mindfulness practice, see if you can recognise some of these descriptions, or in other words, mindfulness in theory:

From Stephen Archer, director of Mindfulness Training:

“Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, with curiosity and compassion. It leads to a deeper understanding of life and how to respond wisely.”

From Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness:

“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

From Shauna Shapiro, of shaunashapiro.com:

“Intentionally paying attention with kindness.”

Once you enter into a regular mindfulness practice with yourself (on your own or with others), you may want to give it your own definition. Let me know what you come up with! I currently call it something like “the art of sitting still” and “the daily practice of shutting up – with intention and awareness and without ambition or trying for perfection”.

Karl Baker, director and founder of Mindfulness Works, the largest mindfulness training organisation in New Zealand and currently also operating in Australia, defines it as both being aware and being present, as well as uses the definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his Guidebook. However, also recently emphasised this on his Mindfulness Works Facebook Page:

“There are mindfulness trainers and training organisations who try to possess mindfulness and make it their own. They claim there is is ‘right’ mindfulness (always their way) and ‘wrong’ mindfulness (other people’s ways).

They ignore their own self-protective agenda, under the guise of ‘spiritual’ or ‘scientific’ self-righteousness.

In truth – mindfulness is freely available to us all and an innate natural capacity. We could even say mindfulness is Life itself.

Mindfulness Works is committed to making mindfulness – as available to as many people as possible. We are committed to people realising that they are inherently OK just as they are, that mindfulness is not complicated and freely available. Rightly or wrongly.”

I love that about Mindfulness Works: the busting of all these myths, the removal of “right or wrong” and offering this simple practice for people to (re-) learn and use if they want to, to reclaim their own authority, to be their own best friend again, to become very close to themselves and know how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Where was your precious attention hanging out most of today? Were you mostly mindful, or absent-minded? Did you put your mindfulness meditation practices to good use? Reply by clicking the comments link above this article. I’d love to hear from you!

Sitara Morgenster

Copyright © 2020 Mindfulness with Sitara Morgenster

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑