There is a great deal of current research about how various meditation practices actually change the brain in positive ways. This is incredibly exciting and with the help of functional brain scans, researchers can see in real time what parts of the brain are stimulated and calmed through these practices. Parts of the brain related to higher brain function have been measured and have actually increased in size from these meditation practices. This is called neuroplasticity.
Some meditation practices teach how to concentrate on one specific image or mantra to help focus the mind. An important and emerging meditation technique is associated with Buddhism and is called Mindfulness. The term can be confusing as it implies the mind is full – however it is quite the opposite.
It is actually being integrated into many Western psychology practices not just because of its effectiveness but because it does not require people to embrace a belief system different from what they already have. Reflective thinking, observation and even calming breathing that reduces stress are aspects of Mindfulness. While there are components of this that require sitting for periods of time, I help people to learn to be more present and accepting of what is happening without the tendency to judge. This is challenging because most of us have a dominating inner critical voice that judges, condemns, labels and criticises us all the time. Our inner critic has often become habituated and over time corrodes our sense of self-esteem. This can become self-destructive and lead to both depression and anxiety of constantly feeling insufficient or not good enough. Acceptance of the things going on around us that we cannot change coupled with a deepening understanding of the power of forgiveness is very liberating.
This type of Mindfulness practice is something that one learns to cultivate all the time in all circumstances, not just when sitting down in a formal meditation posture. This really is about changing our attitudes and even our identity. Chronic anger has been shown to actually damage the heart over time. Mindfulness helps to provide greater acceptance versus the tendency to control, often a major component to keeping anger fueled. The key to this work is acknowledging our inner critic and discovering ways to quiet its voice so that we can progressively feel more self-accepting and peaceful in our day-to-day life, both at work and at home.
Observation of one-self is the mission critical. Seeing yourself living life and how you react to certain situations along with observation of that little voice inside of your head, that lovely little ego. Once you begin to watch and see it at work you begin to realise that your thoughts are not your own. You can really, once you master this, completely control your emotions, your reactions and in turn your perception on life. At this stage you can fall fully into the flow of life and feel the love within always.
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Out from the stillness comes everything…
With Loving Energy,