A Meditation on Observing Thoughts, Non-Judgmentally

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A Guided Meditation on Observing Thoughts

  • 20:22
  1. Take a few moments to settle into feeling the body as a whole, sitting and breathing, or lying down and breathing, riding the waves of the breath moment by moment, resting in awareness. An awareness that features the entirety of the body scape and the breath scape as they express themselves, moment by moment. Life unfolding here and now in the body, in awareness.
  2. And when you’re ready, if you care to, letting go of the breath and the body as a whole. Allowing them to recede into the background or rest in the wings, as we’ve been saying, still very much present but less featured while we invite the whole domain of thoughts and feelings and mood states to be center stage in the field of awareness.
  3. For a time attending to the stream of thought rather than being carried away by the content or emotional charge of individual thoughts, instead resting comfortably on the bank of the thoughts, river or the thought stream itself, allowing individual thoughts if and when they arise to be seen, felt, recognized and known, as thoughts as events in the field of awareness.
  4. Recognizing them as mental events, occurrences, secretions of the thinking mind, independent of their content and their emotional charge, even as that content and emotional charge are also seen and known.
  5. Seeing any and all of these fleeting thoughts as bubbles, eddies and currents within the stream, rather than as facts or as the truth of things, whatever the content, whatever the emotional charge, whatever their urgency or their tendency to reappear, whether they are pleasant or seductive, unpleasant or repulsive. Or neutral and therefore harder to detect at all.
  6. Expanding the metaphor, seeing any and all of these evanescent thought events more like clouds in the sky or bubbles coming off the bottom of a pot of boiling water. Or like writing on water, arising in a moment, lingering for the briefest of instances, and dissolving back into the formlessness from whence they came. Relating to their content as if it were of equal importance and relevance to say what you had for dinner three nights ago. Even if a thought is particularly compelling and insightful. Especially if it is particularly compelling and insightful.
  7. For now, just letting any and all thoughts come and go. Just let sounds come and go. Or sensations come and go. Not preferring some to others, nor pursuing some over others, not pursuing anything. Just resting in an awareness of thinking itself and the spaces between thoughts. Moment by moment, breath by breath, as we sit here or as we lie here.
  8. It might be helpful to be especially sensitive to the steady stream of commentary and advice you may be giving yourself as you sit here, and recognising it as such. As scaffolding. As running commentary, taking a position in relationship to it that resembles turning down the sound on a television set, so that you’re just watching the game and aren’t being sucked into the endless stream of commentary and interpretation and opinion that is so characteristic of televised sports events.
  9. Rather, you now detect the individual secretions of commentary on your moment to moment experience merely is more thinking as thoughts,, as judgments and rest in the recognizing of them in the economists attending to each event as it arises in the stream without being pulled into the past or into the future or into opinions or fears or desires, simply seeing them and knowing them as thoughts and as emotions as mental events, not as the truth and not as you watching them proliferate endlessly as they do watching the mind secrete them and throw them off.
  10. Watching how easily thoughts manufacture or fabricate views, opinions, ideas, beliefs, plans, memories, stories, and how easily they proliferate. If we feed them the one thought morphing into the next, then into the next, until we suddenly realize that we’ve been carried downstream and are no longer aware of the stream itself. The process of thinking and how in the noticing we are already back in the frame of attending to thinking, is thinking to thoughts, thoughts observing them, recognizing them, perhaps being carried away again.
  11. And if so over and over again coming back to this moment to this frame in this moment to the field of thought itself beyond all the content of the endless thinking and proliferating and fabricating and the emotions that accompany them springing from whether they are pleasant unpleasant or neutral and from what’s going on in your life in this moment.
  12. Allowing all of this to be held to bear attention in awareness moment on breath by breath as we sit here or live here resting in the awareness itself south taking up residence in awareness itself in the knowing of thoughts thoughts and feelings as feelings in the accepting of thoughts thoughts and feelings feelings whatever their content whatever their emotional charge just as an experiment in cultivating greater intimacy with your own interiority with what’s on your mind and in your heart. And with new dimensions of the possible.
  13. If we learn to observe carefully and rather than identifying with the content of thoughts and feelings to see them more impersonally as weather patterns as ripples and waves on the surface of the vast and deep ocean of the mind. As we inhabit the whole of the mind that boundless essence of mine that already knows before I thought underneath thought beyond thought that is bigger than thought. Bigger than any feeling however powerful that is capable of making use of thought and emotion without being caught and imprisoned by unwise and unexamined habit patterns developed over a lifetime of ignoring these aspects of the mindscape of the landscape of our own being of our lives unfolding.
  14. So for the remainder of our time together, until you hear the sound of the bells resting in an awareness of the arising and passing away of thoughts and feelings in the mindscape some overwhelmingly obvious, some quite subtle, some masquerading as commentary, others as scaffolding, others as neither, and simply returning over and over again to the frame, whenever the mind is carried off, not looking for thoughts or emotions or mood indicators, just resting in awareness and letting the mall come to you.
  15. Letting them arise on their own in the field of awareness to whatever degree they do. Moment by moment by moment, and breath by breath, as you sit here or as you live your life.

Dispositional Mindfulness: Noticing What You Notice

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Many forms therapy and spiritual practice speak of mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness (sometimes known as trait mindfulness) is a type of consciousness that has only recently been given serious research considerations.

It is defined as a keen awareness and attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and the research shows that the ability to engage in this prime intention has many physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is different. It has taken the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and introduced it to the western world as a form of preparing and training. Those who practice mindfulness meditation are often encouraged to have a “sitting practice,” where they have set aside time to meditate.

In the West, this practice is considered a means to an end. We will be calmer, have lower blood pressure, better relationships, and less stress if we use this practice. While all this is true, the mindfulness aspect of this practice — the essence of this style of meditation was not designed as a means to an end — it was designed to be a way of conscious living.

Mindfulness, when viewed in this way, becomes a quality in our life — a trait, not a state we enter into during practice.

Don’t get me wrong — mindfulness meditation and the wide variety of training programs and opportunities are all valuable exercises. But the original intention of mindfulness and the science now surrounding dispositional mindfulness may be at the very root of how we maintain hope, perseverance, and mental health.

Here is a sample of the research outcomes from nearly 100 studies using dispositional mindfulness:

  • Lower levels of perceived stress
  • Lower use of avoidance coping strategies
  • Fewer depressive symptoms
  • Greater perseverance
  • Less anxiety
  • More hope
  • Reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improved adaptive coping strategies
  • Reduced rumination
  • Less catastrophizing about pain
  • Diminished neuroticism
  • Improved executive function
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Increased emotional stability
Proof Positive

This is an impressive list as the intervention we are talking about is a non-judging awareness of our thoughts and actions. The non-judgment is an important aspect of this practice. Cultivating a witness, a self that views our own experience with a benevolent prospective, has importance and impact.

This means that even before we attempt to change our thoughts, there is value — exceptional value — in simply noticing them.

This wobbly space between perception and response becomes clearer once we are given permission to examine the gap. Dispositional mindfulness is an invitation to widen that gap simply by noticing it exists. As we step back from our moment-to-moment experience we are cultivating our mindfulness, which then opens the way to responsiveness and the possibility and potential to shift our perceptions for the better.

As the Beat poet Alan Ginsberg suggested, one way to enter this gap is to “notice what you notice.” The practice is simple enough. As you survey your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present moment try to do so without judgment. This pause for thought is, in itself, the very dispositional mindfulness that research is showing has so many benefits.

In essence, the practice is strengthened when we catch ourselves thinking.

Why Spirituality is Good for Your Mental Health

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Why Spirituality is Good for Your Mental Health

Spirituality, or being concerned about your connection to the human spirit and the light all around us, is beneficial and uplifting for our overall mental health and quality of life. The secular world often looks at spirituality as hocus pocus when dealing with mental health or physical concerns, but the truth is the human body is not a car, it is more than just mechanics.

Technology and science are needed and beneficial, but they are not the solve-all that some people hope they are. We have a growing disconnection from that sacred light and love within our bodies, even our physical environments have grown into more concrete and steel with less nature and beauty. This lack of spirituality leaves a void; which we fill with overeating, anxiety, sex, money, fighting, career or some other placeholder which we shove into that void thinking we are doing just fine.

Spirituality or Religion

To be clear, spirituality and religion are not the same thing although they do interact. Religion is organized, has standards and provides structure to someone on how they should interact with and grow their spirituality. While spirituality is very individualized and resides within our hearts, no one has access to that spiritual core except for the one who created it. We can think of religion as more external and spirituality as internal. One impacts the other, one can feed off of the other or hurt the other, but they are not the same.

_We are not human beings having a spiritual experience_ we are spiritual beings having a human experience._

I have always been a spiritual woman, but I spent 30 years searching for my religion which would help me elevate my spirituality. It is important to follow your own path in this, trial and error, for every time we stumble or fall we are actually learning and this doesn’t hurt your spiritual core.

Mental Health Benefits

Our spirituality is a connection to something much larger than ourselves, something impossible to measure or fully comprehend. This means we can outsource our anxiety and depression to the one who created this state of being in the first place. Spirituality encourages us to look within ourselves and ask deep questions. At the same time it makes us contemplate how this all fits into our everyday lives and the world around us. This means it can change your perspective on the very meaning of life. If someone wants to argue their interpretation of the meaning of life has no impact on mental health then I have to wonder if they truly ever contemplated that question.

Here are some examples of spirituality benefiting your mental health:

    • Empowerment. Spirituality puts focus on your individual connection to the divine, to whatever it is you believe to be true in your own set of values and faith. This causes your own sense of self to blossom as you explore that inner dimension of yourself. Spirituality does not judge or label, it is whatever you mold it to be within yourself. While it is very difficult to imagine spirituality as a tangible object you can physically mold, you can imagine it is liken to plasma. A state with no fixed volume or shape that allows for the conduction of electricity like a spiritual boost and responds to magnetism or those beliefs and occurrences that pull you towards spiritual growth.
    • Gratitude. Someone who is more spiritually aware often notices their environment and daily blessings. They literally stop to smell the roses as the expression goes and they see light and divinity within that rose. They feel gratitude for the beautiful sunset because it is a blessing from God to even see this sight and the colors fascinate their senses. Unlike the non-spiritual person who may see the sunset and their first thought is “I didn’t get enough work done today”. Gratitude for what is around us and the people around us naturally makes us happier and alters our perspective to a more positive one.
    • Mindfulness. This goes along with gratitude above as we tend to be more grateful when we are more mindful of what surrounds us. Spirituality encourages meditation/prayer, sitting in quiet places listening to your heart, devoting time to worship no matter what that looks like to you. Being consciously aware of what is happening versus being glued to the phone screen oblivious to the beautiful rose bush next to us. Mindfulness is used to treat anxiety, depression, ADHD etc. Yet with spirituality you get mindfulness along with many other benefits.
    • Stamina. Increased spirituality makes you stronger, you can take more hardships and walk away from them smiling. When something difficult happens, some people fall into despair and cry out WHY ME while others understand everything has a reason and ultimately, it is not what happens to you that matters it is how you respond to it. For Muslims, we say alhamdulillah (all praise to
      God) and those of us strong in faith can move on without dwelling. Instead of “why me” try saying “thank you” then keep going.

WHY-monique hassan

In today’s modern world they tend to look at mental illness as related to hormones, neurotransmitters are off, your diet is unhealthy or in some shape or form you are broken and need repair. While I agree that chemicals can be off balance and your diet will impact you, I would also argue that devoting time to your spirituality and listening to your heart can help you feel motivation for a healthier diet and even help you balance your own hormones. If you don’t believe me then explain the placebo effect. Explain how people taking sugar pills can have the same physical effect as someone taking the actual prescription. This is the power of our amazing mind, when linked up with your spirituality , your potential is beyond what you can imagine.

Final Thoughts

We live in a seemingly disconnected space; where people focus on the physical and ignore the internal, letting it wither away. Yet even a few moments a day dedicated to spirituality and listening to your own heart can change your entire mindset and uplift your mental health. I challenge you to push yourself out of your typical comfort zones and explore a new way of thinking. What can you lose? Worst case you determine that spirituality is hocus pocus to you but best case, it change your world.

 

 

Meditation has become a very common practice nowadays. It is now everywhere. And after knowing the benefits of meditation, you would know that it deserves to be everywhere. With its increasing popularity, people are adopting many methods of meditation according to their preferences and ease. There are many centers and institutes which teach tons of…

via Heartfulness Meditation: A Perfect Blend of Science and Spirituality — Get Well Forever