“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.” Ani Pema Chodron
“Sitting still is a pain in the ass.” Noah Levine
Mindfulness is not about acquiring anything, or achieving a goal, but opening to the richness and perfection of right now, the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness, whether through sitting meditation, conscious breathing, walking meditation, any of the countless ways in which we simply come back to the present moment, is about cultivating compassion and loving kindness towards ourselves, our thoughts, our most despicable habits, other people and life itself. It’s about making friends with the mind, being courageous enough to look honestly at ourselves, and seeing what happens when we embrace our fears and curiously navigate the shadowy neighborhoods of our mind, instead of reaching for the phone, or the computer, or a drink – whatever the distraction may be.
When we are either brave or exhausted enough to sit with our feelings, they have the power to transform and enlighten us.
Research on meditation shows lasting changes to the brain with long-term practice. In one study, Buddhist monks showed a high gamma wave activity, even when they weren’t meditating, which is associated with perception, problem solving, and awareness. Most inspiring though, is that their brains had much greater activation in the network which underlies empathy and maternal love, as well as stronger connections from the frontal regions to the emotion regions, which is the pathway by which higher thought can control emotions1. This is spiritual neuroplasticity!
There are many kinds of meditation, from relaxation exercises to practices designed to enhance a specific quality, such as gratitude, generosity, or compassion. We will share with you the simple techniques that work for us, and encourage you to follow through with your own practice, and explore the many other wonderful traditional and novel approaches to meditation available.
Image part of the Public Domain.
Buddha on the Brain. Gierland, John. Wired. February 2006 ↩