“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?*
YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH
We’re still on the mental benefits of meditation, this time looking at will power. Will power is that ability to do something that you know is good for you, which you may not necessarily enjoy doing but you do it out of necessity, out of need.
Examples here would range from regular exercises, eating the right type of food which may not necessarily be yummy, burning the midnight oil to study, ability to quit smoking or alcohol, etc. The biggest test is how to stay on course, maintaining the necessary momentum, knowing there’s a greater gain in the end.
Fortunately, will power can be strengthened, with determination and regular practice of meditation. Meditation gives you the ability to control your thoughts and attention, thereby guiding your actions to dwell on what you deem as priority.
We have countless examples of people who are not able to stop themselves from eating yummy food that causes them to be sick; of people who are not able to bring themselves to exercise though their doctors have recommended it for their well-being; of students or even just adults who’s confidence level is crushed and do not wish to continue with their studies or with life; of people who are battling addictions or facing life threatening health or societal conditions.
As you read this article, do share with your loved ones that there’s a remedy in meditation….. It’s best to do guided meditations with a trained practitioner for best results. Art of Living Botswana amongst others, offers such guided meditation.
The beauty about meditation, just like breathing exercises and yoga stretches is that it’s all scientific. Whilst I have preferred not to get into technical or scientific evidence and data, a lot of research has been done on these practices which have given authentic results.
If at all you’re unsure, or you do fall under any of the categories listed above, you can read more on the subject because it’s very vast. But ultimately, like I always say, the proof is in the eating. Aim to experience all these benefits in any of the Art of Living monthly programs.
In our national agenda to raise an energetic, creative, purposeful, youth, let’s expose them to meditation. It will give them inner strength and will power to overcome any negative forces that distract them from their prosperity.
Yoga and good health
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 ……