La mindfulness è un’attitudine umana universale a disposizione di mindfulciascuno di noi in ogni momento. Si tratta di imparare a schiacciare il tasto “pausa” e di interrompere i propri abituali automatismi di reazione, riappropriandosi della nostra semplicità.

Ma che altro rappresenta questa parola inglese?

La parola è la traduzione inglese del termine sati dalla lingua antica Pali usata 2500 anni fa in India del nord.  In italiano la parola sarebbe “consapevolezza” e, sia nell’insegnamento di meditazione che nella psicologia cognitiva, significa “presenza mentale” oppure l’esperienza della “mente consapevole”. Ma implica qualcosa in più.

La mindfulness è l’intenzione di orientare costantemente la propria presenza verso l’esperienza che si sta dispiegando, al fine di essere pienamente recettivi e non categorizzanti. Quando parliamo di mindfulness non stiamo facendo riferimento ad un concetto, non si tratta di uno stato da ottenere, acquisire o aggiungere. Invece la mindfulness è un attitudine da coltivare “in proprio”, un modo di mantenersi in piena ed accogliente attenzione verso l’esperienza che sta accadendo, momento dopo momento, con il proprio corpo, con il proprio cuore e la propria mente, ed attraverso i nostri relazioni con gli altri.

Il termine mindfulness si sta rapidamente diffondendo nel mondo del benessere, del lavoro, e della psicologia in parte a causa dell’attività in ambito clinico di Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) strutturato da Jon Kabat-Zinn presso l’University of Massachusetts. In questo caso, la Mindfulness si riferisce sempre ad una particolare forma di consapevolezza, che caratterizza una modalità di essere, sostenuta da un’attenzione non giudicante, non selettiva, nei confronti di se stessi e degli altri, momento dopo momento.

Il protocollo MBSR è un approccio compatto e didattico per insegnare le basi essenziali  della mindfulness in poche settimane sia per persone che stanno affrontando momenti critici della vita (lo stress, il lavoro, la famiglia, le malattie importanti) che per chiunque altro,  e  vorrebbero utilizzare le pratiche meditative come strumenti per una maggiore comprensione. Attraverso l’MBSR si impara a conoscere meglio le proprie intenzioni, si impara una modalità di essere attenti  e non giudicanti, con la mente e con il cuore, nel momento presente. Il tutto avviene con un linguaggio non complesso e occidentale, riassunto in pochi passi che aiutano a definire un percorso semplice, utilizzando la meditazione e lo yoga in varie forme accessibili, per avviare una pratica quotidiana e duratura.

Per sapere qualcosa di più sull’MBSR o altri corsi, potete chiamare per un colloquio. Per sapere di più su di me clicca qui. Per una meditazione guidata Body Scan clicca qui.

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Meditazione Body Scan di 20 minuti

posizione body scan

 

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Se segui questa pagina in italiano clicca sul link accanto per una meditazione di circa 30 minuti. La qualità dell’audio non è eccezionale ma spero che sia utile.

Clicca qui.

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As some of you know, I have been very influenced in my life by a short period in which I lived as a Buddhist monastic. In the monastery, we often chanted basic teachings, words of encouragement and reflections designed to help us along on the path. One chant which did at least once a week contained the phrase, “The days and nights are relentlessly passing; how well am I spending my time?”

We were encouraged to reflect daily on this teaching, which is called the Ten Subjects for Frequent Recollection.  I like to think of it as the heart of the monastic “continuous improvement” or “process excellence” practice.

The following is a revised version of the list that I now use for personal and professional motivation in my own life and I sometimes use it for discussions during seminars. The list, and the exercise of bringing it to mind daily, can be seen as a way to incline toward what are very powerful values and which – I believe – help transform our lives into wholesome and positive examples of human potential.

Here are those 10 reflections on human potential. I hope that you too find them useful:

1) I am no longer living according to the same aims and values as others. This should be reflected upon again and again.

2) My life is sustained through the generosity of others including friends, family, business associates and clients.

3) I should strive to abandon my mental and physical habits that reinforce being negative or unnecessarily critical of myself and others and to look with more earnest at my own personal responsibility over my life.

4) Does regret over my conduct arise in my mind?

5) Could my companions including friends, family, business associates and clients find fault with my conduct?

6) All that is mine, beloved and pleasing, will become otherwise, will become separated from me.

7) I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related to my actions and I live supported by my actions; my life will be conditioned by whatever actions I do, for good or for ill, and of those I will be the heir.

8) The days and nights are passing relentlessly; how well am I spending my time?

9) Do I seek silence and solitude to help balance the most important aspects of my personal and professional life?

10) Has my life practice born fruit with freedom or insight so that at the end of my life I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my companions including friends, family, business associates and clients?

This should be reflected upon again and again.gratitude

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“Why meditate?” For some people, meditation is a very obvious and natural activity. A soon as they hear about it, it’s an obviously good and worthwhile thing to do. For them there’s no question about it, it’s more like “Why isn’t everyone meditating?” But some people can feel quite puzzled. “What’s it all about?” One of the best responses I ever heard was from our teacher Ajahn Chah. A representative of the Swedish government had been sent to Thailand to interview meditation masters to get some useful tips so they could integrate them into their national health system. The man had a list of questions and he started with, “Why do you meditate?” Ajahn Chah answered, “Why do you eat?” The man wrote down the response and continued, “How do you feel when you meditate?” And Ajahn Chah responded, “How do you feel when  you eat?”

– from a talk by Ajahn Munindo

I have to admit, when it comes to answering questions about meditation, I am often stumped. It’s not that I don’t have things to say. It’s just that what I have to say often seems so inadequate or incomplete. To be honest, when people ask me “Why meditate?” the first thing that often comes to mind is, “I don’t know why you would like to, but I naturally inclined toward it and, though it was difficult to do at first and continues to challenge me to this day, I have discovered that it has become an essential part of my life.”

Have there been benefits to practicing over the years? Yes there have. Has it changed me for the better. I’d like to think so. But my sense is that “Why meditate?” comes from some inner desire I had to learn how to meditate; and that I continue to meditate because of the desire I have to get a glimpse at what the ancients were pointing to and what my own teachers have taught me over the years.

So today I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts with you and then let you work some of this out for yourself with a short guided body meditation.

First, something about the short guided body meditation audio.

Since I have been dealing with a leg injury over the last couple of months, and have not been able to sit on the floor and practice in the traditional cross-legged style (using the lotus, half-lotus or the easy or polite pose), I have been practicing a lot in savasana or the corpse posture. Savasana is a meditative yoga pose practiced lying on the floor with the legs slightly spread, the arms slightly detached from the body and the palms of the hands turned toward the ceiling. It has been very helpful for me in this period of convalescence and has allowed me to continue practicing and to experiment with a form of body meditation called yoga nidra.

One of the powerful effects of yoga nidra comes from the deep physical and psychical relaxation one can experience. Another is from the use of sankalpa which is an affirmation or resolution chosen by the practitioner and introduced at the end of a session.

It is said that sankalpa has the potential to release tremendous energy by clearly defining and focusing on a chosen goal and by awakening unconscious forces lying dormant. It takes the form of a short phrase or sentence, clearly and concisely expressed, using the same wording each time, to bring about a positive change in one’s life or to nurture some aspect of your being that you’d like to focus on.

Other than the fact that I could easily assume the savasana position on the floor and therefore continue practicing some form of meditation, yoga nidra has been an especially helpful way for me to explore and release deep tensions in the body related to the pain and discomfort in my knee and leg. It has also been a way to constructively explore the feelings and experiences of stagnation and being stuck while confined to bed.

There are a few words of introduction about this in the audio meditation. But basically you will be guided through the entire body with quick pit stops around its vital and sensitive areas.

Secondly, a word about what meditation is not.

Although guided meditations are frequently relaxing, and people sometimes fall into what seems like a sleep state, often when doing a guided meditation for people myself I tell them that, “We are not trying to induce a  trance.  Meditation is about simplifying, about emptying. I am not trying to persuade you to do anything and really I am not telling you anything that you don’t already know or know how to do for yourself.”

I hope this is helpful for your appreciation of the question “Why meditate?” Please contact me and let me know how it goes.

To hear the guided meditation click here.

Thanks and be well.

 

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Practice is voluntary; there is no compulsion. The energy required has to come from within – from our own hearts. Don’t expect someone to enlighten you. Your effort can be useless if all you’re doing is rearranging your actions of body and mind to become a Buddhist. That’s not liberation.Ajahn Sumedho

I have been thinking a lot about these words recently and during the month of June from one of my teachers, Ajahn Sunedho. He is now semi-retired and living in Thailand. But his words are everywhere from the many books taken from his talks, to websites and, thankfully, the occasional email passed along to me through mutual Sangha friends. This quote above is from a calendar dedicated to the spirit of his teachings that sits near my laptop. I look at it daily, as I have each page for each month since the beginning of this year.

The month of July features the quote above and a smiling picture of Lung Por along with the heading “Viriya – Energy” which is one of the seven enlightenment factors according to the teachings of the Buddha. The others are: mindfulness, investigation, joy, relaxation, concentration and equanimity.

For the whole of last month and some of this one, I have been in bed nursing a leg which is swollen due to a large cyst internally and behind the knee and an even larger hematoma also internally on the calf muscle.

Both conditions were largely unknown to me until after some weeks of discomfort and then pain in my knee, I noticed that my leg was slightly swollen. This began a medical adventure which is still not completely resolved but which has transformed me from active, athletic and mobile, to stuck  and feeling at the mercy of doctors and medical staff, confined to my own bed, and for a week, to one in the local hospital here, since June 2.

It has only been over the last few days that I am slowly transforming back again into something I recognize as “me.”

Other than the daily questions that arise about what course of treatment I need to follow and how to make sense of the patchwork of doctors’ recommendations, this has also left me with a number of questions about my attitudes about life and practice. Under the stress of difficult conditions, one can see what needs work and how the foundations of practice hold up, and if one is patient enough and willing enough to “talk the talk, walk the walk.”

Does one feel that sense that, even when things are hard, it is possible to voluntarily and energetically be with things as they are?  Or does the compulsion to push things away and get out of our situation as quickly as possible take over? It can be easy to fall into old traps and old habits of mind. I speak from experience.

If you are interested in this kind of thing though, the age of the internet will bring all kinds of “solutions” right into your home. Some of you may be old enough to remember TV commercials where you could buy the eternally sharp kitchen knife or mostly anything else you “needed.” “Call now, our operators are standing by.” Once the work of psychology and spirituality, honed by years of discipline and discovery, these days you will find many “experts” and “life coaches” on-line who have the way to make your “wrong” life “right” in no time at all.

They’ll have you believe that “being with things as they are” is passive and that “getting out of your situation as quickly as possible” is just a click away – preferably on the credit card and payment form at the bottom of the page.

One of my life coach friends puts it a little better when he talks about “eliminating mental viruses and getting out of the vicious cycles that keep us stuck.” This perspective on why compulsions and languishing in neurotic loops give us a sense of never quite breaking out is not far from the truth; but I think that selling products that promise us we can “break out of something” is misleading and gets us into thinking that there are short term fixes.

There aren’t.

It takes a lifetime to get to where we are – and it takes the same lifetime to smooth out many of the rough edges and sweep away  everything that keeps us from being in that space where we can observe exactly the way things are  moment after moment. Selling breakthrough solutions is nothing more than selling aversion, laziness and doubt – the same obstacles that many people struggle with in the first place.

I read through a site recently of  a well-known Eastern guru who said that modern men and women are no longer able to use traditional systems of yoga and meditation as prescribed by the ancients. I wonder myself sometimes. Maybe there’s some new fangled approach out there that’ll help me “get the bugs out” of my life. Go the gym more, eat better, spend more time with like-minded friends.

Of course, the rest of the site offered trademarked meditation and yoga retreats and the franchising rights to set-up similar places around the world. I guess I’ll just keep on  plugging away with those traditional systems as prescribed by the ancients.

I must leave you now. I am still hobbling around on crutches and I must make some lunch. My wife and son will be home soon and, like most predicaments, mine will change radically when they arrive. If I have left you with more questions than answers, hopefully I have given you cause to reflect on your own predicament.

There’s time.

For now, here’s a slightly modified version of the quote from the top. It is what helps fuel my own reflections these days.

Practice is voluntary; there is no compulsion. The energy required has to come from within – from your own heart. Don’t expect someone to enlighten you. Your effort can be useless if all you’re doing is rearranging your actions of body and mind to become someone else. That’s not liberation.

Thanks and be well.

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