If the thought of shutting down your busy mind to reap the many benefits associated with mindfulness meditation leaves you cold, Ruby Wax’s take on it may give you hope.
Ruby – the comedian and author – has a new book out called ‘How to Be Human’ that she wrote with a Buddhist Monk and a neuroscientist. This unusual triumvirate provide a scientific, spiritual and humorous perspective on what it is to be human in the 21st Century and why so many of us aren’t happy despite all the technological and societal advancements. Mindfulness meditation is a technique they all agree upon as an effective way to manage our overloaded self-sabotaging 21st Century minds.
Here’s a brief summary of their advice on how to do it:
‘Weapons of mass distraction’ – mindfulness meditation is about creating time and space to be fully in the present moment away from the many ‘weapons of mass distraction’ that don’t allow us to just be. The art of mindfulness meditation isn’t shutting out all thoughts in fact the opposite is true. It’s about how you handle the thoughts that come. By creating a calm mind and body you allow your thoughts to come and go, ebbing and flowing, as you acknowledge them but hold yourself back from pursuing them. Each time a thought tries to drag you down into the detail, you draw your mind back to the present moment and allow the next thought to present itself.
You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf them – it’s this practise of creating detachment from the thoughts and simply accepting with curiosity and an open heart ie no judgment whatever feelings and thoughts float into your mind that is at the heart of mindfulness meditation. Each time we draw ourselves away from our thoughts and back into the present moment two things happen. Firstly we acknowledge our thoughts (unacknowledged thoughts way heavier on us than acknowledged ones) and secondly our neutral pathways strengthen with this practise to help us pull back from drowning in our own thoughts more easily every time.
1. Don’t try to battle your mind when thoughts float up during mindful relaxation, acknowledge the thought and come back to your breath or back to the sensations in your body
2. Picture yourself surfing those thoughts whenever your mind is busy with thinking. You are not your thoughts – you’re simply surfing on top of them – aware but not necessarily acting
3. Unacknowledged thoughts weigh far heavier on your mind than acknowledged ones. Write them down, own them, then you decide which are helpful and need attention and which are unhelpful and can be dismissed. You’re the boss of you.
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