As touched on within Weeks 1, 2 and 3, the practice of Mindfulness rests itself within multiple foundations: Mindfulness of breathing, Mindfulness of eating, Mindfulness of thoughts, sounds and emotions. At this point in your journey, we will be expanding the awareness beyond these foundations in isolation. You will learn how to embroider your awareness into all of these aspects simultaneously, until you encounter a sense of the body as a whole.
I find, by experience, that the mind and the body are more than married, for they are most intimately united: and when one suffers, the other sympathises.
The days we endure may feel lengthy at times, but the years are short. Ever had the “OMG, that was never 3 years ago?!” moment? A special occasion or big event which feels like it happened just a little more than 24 hours ago, hits you with the reality of being 4 years ago. The nostalgia felt when discovering an old photo album – the different shades of hair, the members which occupy a space on that glossy piece of paper who no longer grace the earth with their feet, the years of your children which have passed by in all of what feels like a second and all the other things which have changed in your life between now and the moment in time which you are holding tightly between your fingers.
Its scary hey? We’re ageing. You will never get this moment back. It’s gone, – you know that moment we were just in, it’s gone; passed. But you know what’s even more scary? That you will probably not remember that moment. 4 years down the line, you won’t remember how you felt within that moment when you were simply sat reading this post, you will probably cease to recall what your reading right now within 24 hours. The human mind simply just isn’t programmed to commemorate every single second which passes us by.
Isn’t this frightening? That your precious seconds are slipping through your fingers, and each second that passes in which you are not working on yourself, your dreams, your ambitions or practising what sets your soul on fire and what fills your veins with happiness – is a second of your life which you have depleted. Time will continue to pass, days that feel like an eternity, will soon constitute another 4 years. That’s 2,103,796.8 minutes of your life, which could have been spent appreciating your present moment. What is stopping these 2,103,796 minutes from being 2,103,796 minutes of your life which you spend being grateful for your beating heart, the life you have been given to live?
Life can be rocky, it will not always be comfortable. Times will be tough. There will always be a reason to wait, to hope for smoother waters ahead, the beauty of life though – is learning to appreciate the present moment for what it is. Welcoming what you have now – in this second – rather than what is to come in the next. It is learning to accept the undesirable but search for things within these conditions which remind you of your worth, potential and precious life.
I recognise I may have wandered slightly off track from what I originally set out to address here, however I believe it to be something of equal importance. And, when explored deeply, it all feeds back to that one, recurring theme throughout this whole course: the present moment. To live in this present moment, the here and now, we must accept the body as one. We are required to invest all of our attention into what is going on within our bodies right now – be it breathing, eating or thinking. It’s about envisioning all aspects of your senses as a whole.
Consider your awareness as a wave – it is in the nature of the mind to wave; to ripple, to flow, to retreat back and forth, just as it is in the nature of the ocean to wave. It is your challenge, to rest in the awarenessing.
Different thoughts will come and go, greet your attention and then meander off, interchangeably passing by other thoughts. Even in trying to focus solely on the breath, the attention tends to wander from one part of the body to the next, and that is OK. It does not mean you are a “bad meditator”, it is simply bringing your awareness to that thoughts, being aware of this and then committing to bringing your awareness back. When your mind gets lost, see what is on your mind in that very moment and gently move back to appreciating your body as a whole, doing whatever you are doing in the present moment.
By doing so, you are making whatever you are doing a ‘body practice’. Doing just that one thing, and being aware of that one thing. If you are gardening, just garden. Nothing else exists but the soil, the plants, the smell of the flowers, the sensation of sun on your back. This practice would not be gardening while listening to music, or gardening while thinking about where you will go on holiday, or gardening while talking to another gardener. It is just gardening, in silence, with mindful attention. The body and mind are integrated; the body is not doing one thing while the mind is somewhere else, and you are aware of this.
Take this example, of gardening and use this as a cue to help you ground your awareness. A plant does not cogitate, doubt or question the water or sunlight it receives, it does not dwell upon where it is planted or where its roots may grow. It simply accepts what is and blooms. It flourishes on what it has been fed, so fuel your mind with positive thoughts, accept what is, prosper the present moment and express gratitude for what is happening in your life now.
- Be aware of your own thoughts, rest in this awareness.
- Imagine the plant, be aware of everything around you ~ like the plant accepts its water, sunlight and earth ~ and rest in this awareness.
- Feed your mind positive affirmations and thoughts, and rest in this awareness.
Below is a guided audio meditation led by psychologist Rick Hanson, guiding you to a mental state of awareness of the body as a whole. This may be useful in helping your journey to a place where you can simply rest in awarenessing.