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Art of Mindfulness

Four principles to training your mind to calm down

The MidweekSun Admin

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“We meditate, developing mindfulness, developing concentration, and after a while we begin to wonder -“When is the discernment going to come”? “When are the insights going to come”?

Training your mind to calm down begins a process of being able to recognize your ‘blind spots’ of negative behavior. Once you’ve begun to calm your mind with your everyday mindfulness practice, you’ll start to be able to identify harmful stress and anxiety-creating patterns of behavior. Before calming the mind, you’re traveling through life with dulled senses. Lots of things are happening “behind the scenes” (in the mind), but you can’t detect them because you’re not tuned correctly to your mind.

Here are four principles to training your mind to see ‘your blind spots’, cultivate discernment and reduce your stress: Be aware to judge your actions and not yourself. When you learn to separate your sense of self from your action, you will be more willing to admit your mistakes to yourself and be less defensive when other people point them out to you.

Exercise mindfulness in the original meaning of the term – keep something in mind. Mindfulness develops the strength to remember the lessons you have learned, what works and what doesn’t. It is natural for us to want to forget our mistakes and mindfulness brings your awareness repeatedly to remembering your lessons, learning from your mistakes and being able to develop a healthier attitude towards self-growth.

As you begin to apply the lessons you have learned you discover the third principle of discernment – when you recognize your mistakes and act on them, you really do make a difference for yourself and the world you live in. The present moment is not so arbitrarily new that lessons from yesterday are useless today. And the last principle is that you learn how to benefit from the discernments of others.

Without mindfulness we cannot develop our powers of discernment and self-progression in a healthy way.
*Next Week – Why do we worry so much?*

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Art of Mindfulness

Yoga and good health

Pauline Sebina

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As we continue this important topic of yoga and good health, lets raise our awareness more to the subtle nature of prana, the subtle life force inside us.

Whilst we are used to breath in and out through the nose or mouth, the flow of prana is more subtle and deeper. Pranayama, which as said before, is the technique of channeling the prana to be more beneficial to us, and should be taught by a qualified teacher or instructor. The Art of Living programs e.g. the Happiness Course, the Sri Sri Yoga course teach the different pranayamas.

The benefits of pranayama to good health is that it clears the very subtle blocks in our system that may negatively affect our health condition. The benefits can be experienced in among others, the treatment of stress related conditions; relieving the symptoms of respiratory disorders; enriching blood and our organs with oxygen; positively affecting our thoughts and steadying the mind; significantly improving the sleeping patterns; etcetera. Learning pranayama is a big step towards self-healing.

With all the knowledge that we are exposed to, sometimes it is not easy to internalize this knowledge and “live it”. Consequently we are forever decrying deteriorating health or moral fibre, and lack of societal harmony. Yoga addresses the individual at a very personal, wholistic and practical level.

It brings one to a realization that we are responsible for our own health, and not our boss at work, not the medical system nor somebody else. It is the most natural way to healing, among other things. This realization leads one to the fact that even your happiness relies only on you, and to not give other people permission to control or determine your happiness.

These benefits however only come from regular (as in daily) practice of pranayama. It therefore requires commitment and self-discipline because it is a lifestyle or a way of life. Otherwise the knowledge you have about how good your life can be remains a concept, and not a reality. Unless you “live” the knowledge, it is futile and really has no use.

Closely coupled with pranayama towards good health is asana (physical stretches or postures) the third limb of yoga, and finally the different levels of meditation. When we practice the asanas, we also use deep breathing to steady the posture as you hold it.
More next week ……

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Art of Mindfulness

The wisdom of mindfulness and Depression

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When looking at depression we must look to our minds first: our mind is the creator of happiness and the creator of sadness.

There are many aspects of the mind but two stand out. The first is the ordinary mind: this aspect of the mind that thinks, plots, desires, manipulates, that flares up in anger, that creates and indulges in waves of negative emotions and thoughts, that has to go on and on asserting, validating and confirming its ‘existence’ by fragmenting, conceptualizing and solidifying experiences. This aspect of mind continually projects outwards.

And then there is the nature of mind: this aspect of the mind is hidden deep within our own mind. Enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions. It is free of grasping, asserting, validating and confirming. It is the part of mind that is at peace. When we look inwards we will see that the mind can free you from your negative emotions and thoughts. Looking inwards will create a complete shift in our attitude towards our life and the world we live in.

We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being. This aspect of ourselves that has the potential to recognize peace and find freedom from our chaos. Mindfulness practice will slowly teach you to settle down, learn how to work with your mind and guide you towards peace. You will be able to change your mind from a depressed state to a calm state.

Daily mindfulness practice is an uncovering process – a way of meeting ourselves personally. Mindfulness allows you to discover that potential is one of the fundamental characteristics within us and we can gain a deeper sense of understanding ourselves and creating peace of mind. Your mind becomes the most powerful tool you have!

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