I’m privileged to teach mindfulness meditation to a range of different people and most of them want to learn to relax and feel less stressed.
At the end of the last session in a six-week programme, one participant came up and said to me: I definitely feel more relaxed since I’ve started mindfulness meditation, but the surprise is that it’s given me so much more… When I asked her what more she felt it had given her she paused and eventually said: I understand myself better and am learning to be ok with what I see.
This, for me, is key and why in the toolbox of tools for supporting ourselves in a healthy and wholesome way — Mindfulness meditation is the great big powerful, all-purpose drill that you just can’t do without!
You see, it doesn’t matter what we do to support ourselves, if we don’t understand the way our mind works and begin to see the habitual patterns we continue to return too, we will always be slaves to the mind chatter and its continual judgements, of ourselves and everyone around us.
By simply sitting with the breath and learning to observe our thoughts, we are beginning to understand the workings of our mind, what it worries about for the future and what it frets about from the past. We see the way it criticises and judges and, with practice, we are able to put some space between ourselves and our thoughts and realise we are not our thoughts.
With further awareness and practice, we are able to label the thoughts (planning mind, angry mind, anxious mind) and bring some loving attention to them — after all the mind is only trying to protect us from harm and is fearful of anticipated hurt and humiliation.
In everyday life we are able to observe the thoughts and feelings that arise and ask the important question, is this thought true, do I have to believe it and what would be helpful and kind right now?
Suddenly space around our thoughts and feelings open up and we are better able to respond to life, not react.
It is this insight about how our mind works and the gentleness we can bring to it that is so liberating and powerful: our mind becomes our servant, not our master.
This understanding, I believe, is the key to a happier and healthier life.
Kathryn Buxton teaches meditation in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds (UK) and trained with the British School of Meditation.
Please see www.spacious-mind.co.uk for further information