If you have a daily meditation practice now, good for you! If you've been doing this for a while I’m sure you have become aware of some of its many benefits. If you're doing it twice daily all the better but what about the rest of the time? Did you know you can make mindfulness into a waking meditation?
How many of us who do practice meditation are finding that inner peace and stillness for those few precious minutes then only within an hour or two, get caught up in our day, losing present-moment awareness? We start getting in our heads, chasing the future or lamenting an unpleasant past, reacting to triggers. We start getting back into old programming.
When we start chasing the future, our bodies externally and internally begin to tighten (This is not to be confused with goal setting). When that happens, blood supply and life force energy becomes restricted. We begin to feel that time is running out which leads to anxiety. We aren't really there anymore, we are somewhere else, in an imagined future that we perceive as negative but actually doesn’t even exist. This instills stress in our bodies to varying degrees that starts to undo the benefits of your meditation. In these states, we become more reactive to negative triggers, such as fear, resentment, anger, hate, worry, and jealousy. In my practice, I’ve seen people who sadly continuously live in this way, and in one way or another, it begins to break them down, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Living in the past isn’t any better. Continuing to relive past hurts, grievances and trauma keeps it alive in us. I’m not suggesting that you forget your past, not at all! We can learn from the past and we should but that’s all. It is there so we can avoid future mistakes and learn more about ourselves. Also, coming through past pain and challenges can give us understanding and compassion for ourselves and others. Those past challenges are there to allow us to grow and learn from them. Not to make a victim identity out of. If you do, it will retard your growth and ability to find inner peace and can even attract more of the same.
Having a daily meditation practice can certainly help deter us from the pitfalls as I mentioned above, but is it really enough? The collective consciousness has an enormous pull, it's like a viral infection. It can weaken our spiritual, emotional, and mental immune system by pulling us out of our present-moment awareness and into negative bias thinking. Through the collective consciousness, the media, which is extremely manipulative and negative, or a negative past or negative people in our sphere of influence, we begin to become programmed for negativity and become extremely reactive. This negative programming starts at a very young age and grows stronger with time and creates neuro-pathways in our brains. They are like a super highway that leads us to the destinations of sadness, depression, anger, resentment, and every other form of negative emotion.
A regular meditation practice, in which we sit in stillness does aid in giving us relief from and in breaking apart these negative pathways. However, if minutes or hours later you're letting your mind and others pull you around like a wild river, you will lose some of the benefits and much of the peace you gained from your meditation.
So how can we expand on our seated meditation, break apart old programming and continue to build positive pathways in our brains?
I and others suggest that is through mindfulness or what I like to call a waking meditation. Start by being present in whatever you're doing. Whether you're washing dishes, taking a shower, exercising or even eating. Don’t think about it, you don’t need to think about these things. You already know how to do them. Instead, go into the experience of it. For example, most people eat in a way that is on complete impulse or unconscious. They barely see or taste the food. It is just approached as a means to an end. To satisfy that hunger or some other underlying need, then proceed as soon as possible to some other more satisfying future moment which never seems to come because your mind is always going to the next thing and the next. Instead, go into the experience with all of your senses in the present moment. Smell, see and taste the food you're eating. Don’t rush through it. Experience it, don't think about the different flavors and textures in it, feel, see, and taste them. If you do this you’ll be surprised how much more satisfying your food becomes and how the flavors and textures come alive. This will lead you to a natural gratitude for it. You’ll also become satiated quicker and generally won’t feel the need for more or to overeat. Do this with as many activities as you can. Take a shower, feel the water, and feel and smell the soap. Don’t think about it. This will make these activities much more pleasurable and lead to a general lightness of being.
Another way to practice mindfulness is to pay attention to the thoughts that come into your mind automatically. Be aware that due to the programming of outside influences, most of us have a negative bias.
Try to be an alert observer of negativity in your thought process. These negative thoughts can come in the form of judgment, anger, jealousy, resentments, etc, and will leave you feeling a heaviness in your overall energy field. See for yourself the next time it happens. If you stay there long enough and it becomes your consistent state of mind, it can lead you to things like chronic depression, anxiety, or even more serious imbalances of mind and body. It even ages you at a much higher rate. If instead, you become an observer of these states in your mind, you can more easily separate yourself from them. You can truly see them as a programmed reaction and not really you, just programming. It’s from that point you can begin to distance yourself from them and begin change. We can’t change what we don’t recognize.
I would also like to remind you to be mindful of the energy you choose to subject yourself to. The media is one to really be careful of. News especially, TV, movies, and even video games and apps on your phone. Little of it is truly useful and has a strong tendency to sensationalize, manipulate and even divide people by creating fear. This includes social media. If it makes you anxious, fearful, or angry, beware! You might say, “How can we change the world if we don’t know what’s going on?” I will say to you,” The best way to change the world is to first change ourselves.” If we all utilized these tools I’ve mentioned, I believe the world would automatically change as a matter of course. Not overnight of course but how quickly is it changing for the better now? I never watch the news, yet anything that is truly important I seem to know about. Also, be aware of the negative energy of those in your circle or those closest to you. Eliminate or limit the time you spend in negative company. If you can’t, then become extremely present. Become the observer. See their reactions but don’t judge, label, react to, or internalize any of it. Just see it apart from you. Sometimes doing this will neutralize the negativity coming from that person because you are not feeding it with your energy.
In closing, there are other techniques that can bring you to mindfulness or waking meditation such as breathing and inner energy exercises and more. Give them all a try and see what works for you. It will usually take some effort and getting used to in the beginning but with vigilance and persistence it will get easier and the rewards will be well worth it. If you can master this at least part of the time and make it a regular practice, your life, in general, will begin to change. You will feel lighter, happier, and more balanced. You will naturally attract better situations and people. Challenges will still come but in this mindset, you will be better equipped and able to navigate through them and learn from them and they will not last as long….
With Love and Light,
Katherine McBride, C.P.C.
Reiki Master / Teacher
Karuna Reiki® Master / Teacher
Certified Life Coach