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October 09, 2020
We live in an era where our attention is worth as much as any conventional "commodity". Our attention has become valuable yet we easily give it away. Meditation is a great way to cultivate our attention and awareness.
The metaphor of the ocean can help illuminate the fullness of who we are. The ocean is vast and has depths untouched by surface agitation. While the surface layer relates to the mind and emotions it is always moving and churning with much activity. Many of us are caught in the constant activity of the mind and emotional roller-coaster. We co-habitate with worries, anxieties, restlessness, frustration, dissatisfaction, low self-worth, guilt, panic and more. This is all punctuated with moments of peace, satisfaction, well-being and rest. But for many the norm is not contentment, the contentment stillness offers.
We can know contentment by cultivating stillness, we can give it our attention and learn to find the depths of peace within. One simple way millions of people for thousands of years have done this is through a meditation, mindfulness or prayer/contemplation practice. These practices are a cornerstone for many spiritual traditions. The true fundamental for peace is inner peace. Contentment and inner peace is not tied to material existence. But, all the conditioning, trauma and limiting beliefs mask the peace that available to us from within.
The peace and well being which we can cultivate through meditation has been subject to much research. At UCLA they have MARC the Mindful Awareness Research Center. And, research has also been conducted at Harvard and UMASS Boston to name a few. The research findings indicate that 20 minutes of meditation a day for a minimum of 8 weeks can rebuild grey matter, reduce stress, improve the immune system and increase self compassion. That is only 1120 minutes out of 80,640 minutes in 8 weeks. A small fraction of your time for a benefits that last.
The practice of mindfulness can be undertaken as a secular activity free of religious or spiritual connotations. Below are 6 suggestions to help you establish a sustainable sitting practice.
6 Suggestions for starting a meditation/mindfulness practice
1.) Do not put if off; there is no better time than now to begin a practice. Time is ephemeral and life is short so if you’ve been thinking about bringing meditation into your life don’t wait.
2.) Start simple 5-10 minutes a day
3.) Pick a time, many people enjoy morning meditation. They find it a good way to meet the day, from a place of stillness.
4.) Pick a place and create an altar or sanctuary there. It could be a corner or low desk; consider accenting it with flowers, a crystal, bell, bowl or other object you find special.
5.) Sit in a comfortable up right position either in a chair or on a cushion the floor.
6.) Be patient and diligent; some days your mind will be like a bucking bronco and other times it will be calm and serene. Neither is right as they give you a glimpse into your internal landscape.
To learn how mindfulness meditation increases grey matter in the brain visit this link.
Besides the health benefits meditation it is a great way to get to know yourself. You learn to be a detective, tracking your thoughts and feelings. This is where intimacy begins, within. Overtime your meditation practice will deepen and become an anchor, a place of peace within and a source for greater equanimity in a world where equanimity is in short supply.
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