Mindfulness – what is it?
Imagine this – you’re lying awake in the middle of the night. You keep thinking about that incident earlier in the day. You re-frame it and re-process it over and again, but no matter which way you look at it it remains a problem. This one won’t go away by itself. Not now anyway. Lying there, in the middle of the night with nothing but the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.
What to do?
There is an answer.
Being present in the moment when there is nothing in the moment except the darkness of the middle of the night means we are naturally drawn to the breath. It’;s what we are doing in the present – breathing. Always. It is just with us, a (mostly) unconscious inhale and exhale, the rhythm of our lives.
So let’s begin, let’s go into the moment and embrace the stillness, right here and now.
If you are lying down, remain so. If you have a straight backed chair – even better – take a seat and nestle your but up against the back of the chair. Feel the chair supporting your back, and feel yourself lengthen and get taller as you lift and grow upwards. Inhale and experience the breath filling your lungs and stomach and torso with air.
Now, move your but out from the back of the chair a little, so that you are suiting independently upright. Feel your core muscles activate, and nice how they lift your belly and allow you to spread your shoulders wider, and then tuck your chin and feel your ears in alignment with your shoulder blades.
Inhale again, and feel your body – erect and tall and paying attention, feel your whole body as a beautiful expression of life and energy and then as you exhale, feel the flow of release, of letting go, of deflating and letting the air hiss out of your mouth like it is releasing the pressure and pent up heat of the day.
Now close your eyes, and lower your gaze so you are looking out along the arch of your nose. You are seeking that space out in front of you like a balanced tripod – so that you have your two legs, and this invisible energy coming from your head, through your chin, out in front of you. Completely grounded.
Inhale and feel the inflow of air just the same as the exhale gives you an opportunity to observe the outflow of air. It’s not an effort, you aren’t changing your breath at all, just observing, at a normal pace, normal depth, everything normal and calm and harmonic as it should be.
Did you notice your mind wandering? That’s ok. Just bring your mind back to your breath. Please be gentle on yourself. no judgement. So many of us tell ourselves bad things when our mind wanders. But we are training our mind – like a small child wandering through the markets – just observe – don’t touch, just observe, keep moving.
Not giving yourself a hard time is what mindfulness is all about. Just observe, notice your thought arise like a bubble and then let it float upwards and away like a bubble does. thoughts and bubbles come and go and float away – it’s what they do. Just breath and observe.
This is mindfulness – you might be dipping into gaps of stillness at this moment – which is fine – but also, be patient with a sense of frustration that you may also notice. It’s part of the yin yang of the energy – with the deep calm of stillness is the other side, the hot urgency of frustration. Just sit with it and let it flow away.