What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness practice helps you to reduce suffering by training your mind to respond, rather than react mindlessly, to present moment stimulus. This allows you to “experience your grief without becoming grief itself,” as well as open your awareness to all aspects of your life, pleasurable, unpleasurable and neutral.
Rather than push away an experience, or grasp onto it, we learn to notice with a sense of calm abiding. We wake up to the reality of the moment, without becoming overwhelmed by it.
Mindfulness may be practiced formally (seated meditation, walking meditation) or informally (awareness breaks, mindfully engaging in day to day tasks, mindful communication). Mindfulness is not “zoning out” or “relaxation,” though it can be relaxing!
The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.
We don’t want to stop our thoughts but to change our relationship with them.
RAIN: Four Steps To Manage Emotions Mindfully
When a difficult emotion arises on or off the cushion, RAIN allows you to decondition your response and transform habitual reactions.
- Recognize – Acknowledge what you are feeling. What is happening inside me right now?
- Allowing (Acceptance) – Be willing to be present to your experience, no matter how unpleasant. Whatever you notice, let it be. (Tara Brach recommends noting “I consent” or “yes” or “this too”).
- Investigate – Unhook yourself from the object or story, so you can witness the emotion with kindness, and from an unbiased perspective. Mindfulness of body is a great technique here, as is asking yourself “what am I believing to be true?”
- Non-Identification – Recognize you are not this emotion or experience, it is just a temporary event arising. Watch it with an attitude of natural presence.
Keys To Practice
- Find a quiet place to practice & ask not to be disturbed.
- Find a supportive seated posture in a chair or on a cushion.
- Pay attention to your object of focus.
- When you get lost, start again – no big deal!
- Record your experience in a practice diary or journal.
- Relax! You don’t have to be perfect.
Mindfulness & Grief: With Guided Meditations to Calm Your Mind & Restore Your Spirit.
A Lamp In The Darkness. Jack Kornfield.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation
These guided meditations by Heather Stang are offered during her four week Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation course at the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland, and will provide you with a solid foundation for practice regardless of your ability to attend the class itself. If you have any questions, please contact Heather.