When you think about caring for another, and about arriving fully present at the bedside, what comes to mind? Does the idea of compassion in caring mean that we have to sacrifice some part of ourselves, or somehow “become” something we’re not in order to arrive present? Is there something that we lack that needs to be gained in order to be compassionate?
When we think about meditation, it's easy to think about sitting on a cushion, or in nature and working with our mind, working with our practice. And, to some extent, that's what we need to do when we formally practice. It's through our formal practice that we gain the stability to practice every day, to integrate what we've learned into how we are and who we are in our lives.
A step-by-step introduction to meditation.
What do you do with your mind when you drive? Do you think about what you have to do when you get where you’re going? Do you mull over your problems? Do you sing along with music and lose yourself in the words and a memory of the video clip that goes with it? Are you cursing the idiot in that Porsche up ahead, or getting irritated because the traffic is too slow? If you’re doing any of this, ask yourself if you’re as aware of the road as you could be? Is there a safer, more relaxed way to hold your mind as you drive? Answer – yes.
While these aspects of meditation can provide us with the support necessary to achieve a stable meditation practice, and while a formal meditation practice is the only way to become familiar with our mind, the primary reason to meditate is to become familiar with our true nature within our ordinary daily life.
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally."
The benefits of teaching mindfulness to adolescents are confirmed in research between Tonbridge School and the Cambridge University Well-being Institute in the UK.
My teacher said during the recent retreat in Amsterdam that we should study ourselves: our habits, where we get distracted, where things go wrong, what triggers our emotions and what pushes our buttons. This resonated quite deeply with me, given that after all, I am a scientist. But I found that it is not only helpful to study your more gross patterns of mind by asking these questions about how you function in situations you encounter in life.
My previous blog, about the pitfalls of becoming distracted and wrapped up in our own thought processes, prompted Marco to ask some rather intriguing questions:
What about creative thinking? I mean, how can you stay present when you are using your mind for creative purposes, like starting a project? For instance this blog. You needed to think creatively, plan, visualize, create a strategy etc to create and promote the blog. How can you use your mind in this way while at the same time staying present?
Well Marco, with some of your points I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask. You’ve done the equivalent of asking the night watchman at the Bank of England how he goes about calculating the annual national inflation rate. It is probably safe to assume that this blog was once little more than a twinkling, innocent agenda point. Was everyone participating in the miraculous conception of this blog mindful, present and aware throughout the process?