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Art of Mindfulness

Getting started with mindfulness and letting go of your depression

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Recognizing that you can train your mind to calm down begins the process of overcoming your depressed state of mind. In order to gain wisdom in overcoming your sadness or depression it is important to recognize how valuable your life is! Every human life is a gift and recognizing this begins a valuable process to gaining peace of mind and ultimately happiness!

Depression can be worked on in mindfulness meditation. Learning to become mindful is a big step. Mindfulness gives you better perspective of what is happening in the present moment. You want to begin your process of understanding by noticing what triggers your sadness and/or depression? This includes looking back over what might have been the cause and condition. By understanding the ongoing cause, you will be able to remove the cause. Frustration, dissatisfaction and fear can be a cause and they can keep the mind depressed and searching endlessly.

Practicing mindfulness allows you to recognize the moment your sadness or depression starts to arise. The moment you ‘catch yourself in the act’ of sadness, start to train your mind to let this sad thought go. Learn to breathe through your sadness or negative thought. Breathing consciously with the whole body focused on the ongoing rhythm of breath in and out, will calm the body and in turn will calm the mind. The more attention given to your breathing, the less attention is available to fuel your sadness or depression.

This sounds good in theory but how can this practice really change your depression? Slowly the wisdom of calming your mind guides you and you start to see how your mind can change from a depressed state to a calm state. You start to see how identifying your harmful patterns of thought, training your mind to calm down, will bring a positive state of mind.

Next week – The wisdom of mindfulness and Depression

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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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