7 keys to Mindfulness

Mindfulness as a word can be misleading as it does not mean a mind which is filled with thoughts. Instead it refers to present-moment awareness. It is a state in which you are focused on what is happening to you in the now. The focus could be on external events such as sights and sounds, or on your sensations and feelings. In fact most forms of meditation, including Transcendental Meditation (TM) are types of Mindfulness. Mindfulness can also be achieved through Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and the like. Recorded tapes are the most common aid to the practice of Mindfulness.

Here are seven key words and phrases associated with Mindfulness:

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The Buddha and Psychotherapy

After Siddhartha Gautama was enlightened he became the Buddha. Before that time he had been first a great prince and then, after his renunciation, a wandering monk. His aim was to uncover the secret of suffering and find enlightenment. He tried several teachers, starved himself close to death, practised self-torture and meditation, but none of these worked. In despair he decided to sit under a Bo tree, not leaving until he had found either enlightenment or death. Four weeks later it came to him in the night. He ‘saw’ into the ultimate nature of reality: that it was without names, time or permanence. He realised that he was it and it he.

A few weeks after that he gave his first sermon in the Deer Park at Sarnath to five disciples. He told them that he had discovered that everything that arises is subject to cessation, including suffering. The path to enlightenment lay in the Four Noble Truths:

1.   Know that there is dukkha

2.   Understand the origin of dukkha in attachment

3.   Let go of attachment and dukkha

4.   Follow the Eight-fold path

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The philosophy of the bleedin’ obvious

This is the third and final article in the series on religion.

Let me start this one with a story about one of my spiritual heroes.

When Krishnamurti was 14 it was ‘discovered’ that he was a kind of ‘Messiah’ (despite the fact that his new worshippers thought he had ‘a slightly moronic look’). He was brought up by the Theosophists and prepared for his future career as the New World Teacher. He became the centre of a cult.

But when he was 34 he gave it all up. Telling his followers that he was not a teacher, not a guru, and that there was not even such a thing as religion. In fact he told them a story about the Devil:

“The devil and a friend of his were
walking down the street, when they saw a man pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, ‘What did that man pick up?’ ‘He picked up a piece of the truth,’ said the devil. ‘That is a very
bad business for you, then,’ said his friend. ‘Oh, not at all,’ the devil replied, ‘I am going to help him organize it [into a new religion].”

For Krishnamurti ‘truth is a pathless land.’ No one can guide another towards the truth, it has to be earned for yourself. He said:

“I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one
essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages,
from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish
new theories and new philosophies.”

Now Krishnamurti spent the next 56 years of his life (he died in 1986) as a sort of anti-guru teaching only one thing: Awareness.

That’s it: nothing else. Just Awareness. And its right there in the teachings of Buddha and Christ: just sit on your bum and train your awareness on what’s going on right now.

Here are some of the things I have learned about Awareness.

  • It is not detachment. You are still involved in experience but you are also aware of how and what you do when you are in it.
  • Awareness is not thinking. Awareness notices thoughts come up and waits for them to process and then go away.
  • It does not require meditation (in fact, some types of meditation – the ones that try to ’empty the mind’ just get in the way).
  • Awareness means witnessing everything that happens to you, without
    interfering in the flow of events. You observe how you move, how you
    walk, how you eat, how you talk.
  • Practicing Awareness makes you intensely aware of your living in the moment – now.
  • You also become more emotional, not less.
  • States of joy, peace and serenity, become more and more ‘normal’.
  • Worry becomes hard to do.
  • As you develop Awareness you cease to live in the past and in the future.
  • You become more and more grounded, centred in your body,
  • You also become increasingly averse to words like ‘God’, ‘Love’, ‘Human existence’, ‘Fate’, ‘Heaven’, etc.
  • Suffering becomes more bearable – you are aware that that experience, too, will pass.
  • Because the practice of Awareness makes you less intolerant, and less judgmental, you become more and loving and compassionate towards others.
  • Once in a while this state of Awareness opens up and expands – and for a split-second you go into a God-like state of consciousness (sorry, I can’t really explain it better than that – the whole thing is beyond words). It is utterly blissful.

“Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
When you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
And if you haven’t wept deeply, you haven’t even begun to meditate.”

Ajhan Chah

Binaural beats

This is the second in the series on binaural beats – audio programs that change brain states.

The outcome is a change in physical or emotional state combined with a change in consciousness. That’s one of our major goals in Reverse Therapy.

Using them we can switch off worries, connect to Bodymind, create deep trance, or trigger endorphin release.

Binaural beat programs work by entraining the brain to slow down brain wave frequencies. The everyday state – the one in which Headmind is most active – is Beta. The next slowest wave is Alpha (the state that occurs when we are just nodding off to sleep, or are in trance). Beyond that we have the Theta state, which occurs in deep sleep or profound meditation.

Theta waves were first studied in the 1970s and it was noticed that using equipment to produce Theta wave states produced serenity, reduced the need for sleep, cut out anxiety, boosted the immune system, enhanced creativity, and helped integrate the emotions. In addition, it is impossible to worry or get anxious so long as the Theta state is in operation.

Interestingly, Japanese research, which studied brain scans of Zen monks – showed that
experienced meditators can actually switch down to the Theta wave in minutes.

Now binaural programs are able to create the same benefits without the need to spend years practicing meditation.

I have been testing two of these programs and recommend them both.

If you want to try them for yourself then use the links below.

Deeper and Deeper’ CD Download

‘Endorphin Release’ CD Download