Monday, October 27, 2014

3 Ways to Develop Mindfulness

Here are a three ways to develop the mindfulness that you bring to investigating, understanding, embracing and transforming the complex, mysterious, subtle and sometimes unsettling experiences of your life. As you become more adept at these practices in your ordinary waking life, you'll be more likely to be able to bring them into the more subtle realms of your consciousness as well.
                                    Image result for mindful photography
One practice is to anchor your mindfulness in being aware of your hands as you move through the many activities of your day. Notice what you are touching and the movements of your hands. Since so much of the brain is devoted to the hands, the hands are an excellent anchor point for your mindful awareness. Then if you are able to become lucid within a dream at night, be mindful of your hands within your dream and raise your hands to the sky.

Another practice is to be mindful of thoughts as the display of your mind's creative potential. When people tell us that they aren't very creative, we'll often ask "do you know how to worry?" Most people are quite adept at worrying, and as one of our Navajo teachers would often say, "Worryin' is just prayin' backwards." Learning to be mindful of how your creative mind manifests as waking dreams or mental stories is another powerful practice. As you learn to be more mindful of your thoughts as creative "stories" you can then begin to distinguish between self-sabotaging mental riffs, and patterns of thinking that are potentially more beneficial. One way to do this is to be mindful of your thinking and when you notice a thought that is not helpful, to say to yourself, "Ah, this is a story that doesn't need to happen." For example, if you are filled with fear about a medical test results, or concerned about how a presentation will be received, when you become mindful of those fears, say to yourself, "and this is a story that doesn't need to happen." Similarly, when your creative mind is projecting scenarios of thoughts that are more favorable or constructive, such as imagining a good response to your presentation or favorable test result, say to yourself "and this is a healing story." Developing these mindfulness skills can help you to develop greater confidence in managing your mind.

A third way to develop and deepen your mindfulness is by using the following formula: 
Clear presence, embracing the flow of experience, with great compassion. To put this into practice, anchor and activate the sense of clear, mindful presence by reaching up and touching your heart, in a gesture of really being in touch with yourself and present in the moment. In a similar way, allow your mindfulness of the flow of sensations of your breathing to help you embrace whatever experiences -- thoughts, perceptions, emotions, mental images, etc. -- are arising and dissolving in the clear space of your awareness. Allow a gentle smile in your heart to hold the tone of great compassion as your clear presence embraces the flow of your experience. If mindfulness sometimes seems a bit dry, sterile, or hyper-objective, adding a smile to your mindfulness can help protect you from becoming too self-critical or judgmental, and keeps your heart more warm and open with a greater sense of mercy, compassion and curiosity.

With practice, these perspectives and meditations will develop your capacity to clearly observe and stay with any experience -- no matter how complex or scary it may be - -with a sense of open- heartedness and intuitive intelligence, rather than lapsing into overwhelm, confusion, or fear. Learning to meditate in this way can help open our hearts and minds to more fully embrace the joys, sorrows, gifts, griefs and mysteries of our lives with greater clarity, confidence and peace.

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