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Mindfulness: Insights & Tips

Mindfulness is a wonderful technique to cultivate in our lives that can bring us increased self-awareness, inner-peace, and deeper contentment & fulfillment. However, as you may know, mindfulness isn't easy. Especially with the hustle & bustle we are constantly surrounded with. We can get so caught up in trying to to keep up with our lives, that we forget to open our eyes, be present, and truly live our life. 

 

One of the culprits that limits our access to presence: our thoughts.

 

I have given an analogy below to help you further understand this which is based on a chapter of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, Where You Go, There You Are (one of my all time favorites): Imagine your thoughts as a cascading waterfall. When you stand under the waterfall, you are being overwhelmingly flooded with your thoughts. It can be intrusive, intense, and a lot of pressure to endure. When we step into the cave behind the waterfall, we can then watch, listen, and observe the waterfall (our thoughts) without being in the torrent. Jon Kabat-Zinn calls this, going beyond or behind. This provides us with a new perspective and an ability to be in relationship with our thoughts as we simply recognize them as thoughts. We can then create new thought patterns that bring nourishment, understanding, and compassion into our lives. 

 

In yoga, we refer to this process as “witness consciousness”. This is when we step into the role of “the observer” and align ourselves with Purusha // Soul // True Self; that which is unchanging, who we really are. This requires us to observe our thoughts, sensations, and emotions without identifying to them or creating a story around them

 

When we identify with our thoughts, we identify with Prakti // Matter, Nature // Non-self; that which is changing (job titles, bank account, relationships, etc). When prakriti changes, we feel lost, insecure, and uncertain of who we are and the direction we are now going. 

 

The practice of yoga and mindfulness helps us to release this cycle of suffering (known as Avidya; ignorance of our true Self), and become in tune with who we are at a soul level (Vidya; wisdom), where we can then create new thought patterns that are in service to us, and the direction we desire to go in life.

 

The practice below will help you apply these teachings to your own life and bring you increased self-awareness, inner-peace, and presence. {A recorded version of this practice is coming soon.}


 

BECOME THE OBSERVER


Everyday we have endless thoughts, sensations, and emotions. It is our nature to want to tend to each one of these, however, yoga asks that we simply observe than than taking immediate action on them with the effort to make ourselves 'more comfortable.'


You can do this practice in the form of a meditation, during your physical yoga practice, or even within the normal routine of your day.  Remember, your breath is your anchor,  allow yourself to notice your inhalations and exhalations frequently.

 

Notice sensation {tingingling on the surface of the skin, sensation in the joints, discomfort, itch, stuffy nose, etc.} and that you can notice it, but you do not need to tend to it. 

 

Notice thoughts {story telling, judgements, daydreaming, list making, future planning, etc.} You can imagine them as clouds crossing the sky of your mind. 

 

Notice emotions {boredom, fear, anger, sadness, etc.} and how they rise and fall without tending to them. Or how they may become your thoughts.

 

Sensation becomes thought story which becomes emotion which becomes more sensation. This is the cycle of suffering. To break the cycle we become sakshi (inner-witness), we simply sit with and observe rather than take action, or non-action (fear of starting in the first place).

 

After completing the practice, take a few moments to free write a reflection or simply take note of how you feel.

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