Mindfulness Meditation – How to Navigate Through Your Own Personal Minefield

The cultivation of greater mindfulness, however, can help us navigate through this personal minefield, alerting us whenever we get too close to danger.

Mindfulness Meditation – How to Navigate Through Your Own Personal Minefield

Bad experiences sometimes leave deep wounds on our psyche – scars that take a long time to heal. While time generally does heal most wounds, we don’t do ourselves any favours by going back and picking at them. In fact, replaying bad experiences over again in your mind is a recipe for disaster, for the negative thoughts and emotions that were buried can be brought back to life with explosively destructive force, just like a landmine buried long ago in a forgotten war. The cultivation of greater mindfulness, however, can help us navigate through this personal minefield, alerting us whenever we get too close to danger.

Where Are Your Mines Buried?

Some of us do a better job than others of just going with the flow of life, and not spending too much time looking back with regret, recrimination, or guilt, to name just a few of the toxic emotions that can accompany our memories. But for almost all of us, there have been some particularly painful moments along the way, and these are the landmines that we must map out and stay away from, lest we unleash a damaging flow of thoughts and emotions.

The emotions associated with past traumas don’t just make us miserable; they also have creative (which in this case means destructive) potential, transforming the events that transpire in our outer reality as well as the inner landscape which can often be bad enough by itself.

What sort of events have you buried?

  • An argument with a co-worker or family member?
  • An accident that you caused?
  • The death of a loved one or pet?
  • Rejection by an object of your affection?
  • Getting fired from a job?
  • Failing a test at school?
  • Saying something that hurt someone else’s feelings?
  • Betraying a friend’s confidence?
  • A period of severe poverty and insecurity?
  • The time other people abused you verbally or physically?

Obviously, the list is endless. There’s a pretty good chance that you’re working on something in your own list right now. Our inherent “negativity bias” is almost irresistible, constantly drawing us back to the worst memories and the most negative expectations for the future. That sort of thinking once made sense in an earlier evolutionary environment, where the avoidance of real threats to our survival was paramount, but in today’s generally much safer world, this default “doom and gloom” setting does us no favors at all.

Awareness of the Danger Will Protect You

While conventional mindfulness practices, which teach us to be aware of what we’re doing, moment-to-moment, with our minds, can tell us when we’re dwelling on negative memories, they don’t do nearly enough to inform us about the very real danger of this type of thinking. Buddhist mindfulness does not embrace the much more modern New Age concept that we create our physical realities with our thoughts and emotions, and simply confines itself to inner reality.

While there is undoubtedly real benefit to be derived from a more harmonious inner life, the real danger we must avoid is the physical manifestation of our negative thoughts and feelings. This danger is very real, and the power of our most upsetting memories is particularly likely to expose us to harmful manifestations.

For unlike the positive manifestation goals so beloved of self-help authors like Rhonda Byrne, we know exactly what these bad experiences feel like and we can remember every little painful detail in technicolour glory. In short, it’s much, much easier to create bad realities than good ones, and we have to police ourselves constantly to protect ourselves from these self-inflicted wounds.

So the next time you catch yourself dwelling upon the worst events of your past, just stop. No matter how justified you feel you are in rehashing that event, you must remind yourself of the power of your thoughts and emotions. A simple way to manage yourself is to ask whether you want to relive that experience – or something very similar to it – again. Because if you don’t watch out, that is exactly what will happen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard M. Frost

When replaying past events, one of the most damaging thought patterns we must avoid is that of self-blame. Critics of the New Age use that issue as an argument against the reality-creation principle, but it is – ironically – a strong argument in favour of New Age ideas.

Breathing Meditation – Your safe harbour in a storm.

Breathing meditation is an exercise in mental awareness, not an exercise in physically controlling your breathing.

Breathing Meditation – Your safe harbour in a storm.

Breathing meditation is one of the simplest and easiest mindfulness exercises. Focusing awareness on your breathing takes your attention away from the raging tempest of thoughts and emotions that usually swirl around inside you during times of great stress. When you feel like you are spiralling out of control on the way to rock bottom, breathing meditation can be a lifeline around your sanity. Let’s take a look at how easy and effective this can be.

An Overview of Breathing Meditations

Breathing meditation is an exercise in mental awareness, not an exercise in physically controlling your breathing. Thus, if you suffer from breathing difficulties, such as COPD, this isn’t something you’ll do with your physical therapist. While mindfulness is generally an excellent antidote to stress, if the struggle to breathe is itself the cause of your stress then this may not be the best mindfulness exercise for you. But for most people, the process of breathing is controlled beautifully and unconsciously by the autonomic nervous system, and makes for an excellent anchor for our attention.

To begin the exercise, place yourself in a comfortable position, relax each part of your body in turn, and then close your eyes. For the next five to ten minutes, focus only on your breathing. If your mind wanders – which it will – just gently bring it back to your breathing. To help you focus (and stop you from going in the other direction and spacing out) keep a running count of each out-breath, from one to ten repeatedly.

After numerous sessions of counting your out-breaths, switch focus to your in-breath, counting before you breathe in. This makes you aware of the different feel of the in-breath – one of gathering energy – in contrast to the release of the out-breath.

When you feel you are ready, drop the counting altogether and just focus on your breathing. While counting can help you focus, it also breaks the seamless flow of breathing into a choppy, discontinuous series of individual breaths. Try to feel the air at the rims of your nostrils, and even on your upper lip.

This level of sensitivity may take a while to develop, but one of the purposes of mindfulness exercises is to enhance the richness of your present moments, bringing to consciousness fine details that are usually missed. In other words, mindfulness makes you more alive in the here and now, and over time this becomes apparent across your entire waking life, not just during meditation itself.

Dealing with Distractions

The issue of distractions brings us back to our primary purpose. When you are distracted by all those random thoughts or emotions that impinge on your awareness, you are like a car driver who allows an obnoxious passenger to take hold of the wheel. You are no longer in control, and this is not an acceptable state of affairs. But it is vital not to become annoyed or disappointed with yourself; in fact, there is something to celebrate here.

At that precise moment when you realise that you have lost your focus and become distracted, you are taking the passenger’s hands off the steering wheel and putting yours back on. You are becoming more aware; you are learning that you have a choice about the contents of your mind. And with choice comes freedom.

Thus, whenever you bring your attention back to your breathing after a rude interruption, do not judge yourself. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for rising above the distraction. (Don’t overdo it, though, since this little celebration can itself become a distraction!) In a sense, the right attitude to adopt toward yourself is one of loving-kindness, which we have discussed in companion articles on this website. Breathing meditation is, in fact, a prelude to more advanced Buddhist meditations such as loving-kindness, and the calmness it will give you is a necessary precondition for insight.

Using this simple exercise, you will always be able to regain inner control and restore your sanity with just a few minutes to spare.

Richard M. Frost – About the Author:

Effective though it is, breathing meditation is only the beginning of the most fascinating journey you will ever take – the journey within. To see what happens when ancient meditation techniques are enhanced by a thoughtful application of modern neuroscience, visit Meditation Audio Reviews.

Spiritual Awareness

It does not take a great effort (or any effort at all actually) to grow in spiritual awareness. Just be aware, that’s all. Spiritual awareness is simply about being mindful of spiritual Truths. You don’t have to go around obsessing about these Truths to be aware of them. Nor is there really any need to constantly immerse yourself in deep thought in order to break through and “see the (spiritual) light.” Spiritual awareness is not something that you can gain by force. You cannot compel yourself to become more spiritually aware, you merely have to be open to what is already within you.

Spiritual AwarenessAre you aware that the sky is blue? Or that sugar tastes sweet? These truths, in general, are universally elementary. Realizing them does not take any degree of deep thought or obsessive contemplation. They are just things that you are aware of. You don’t have to go around constantly reminding yourself that the sky is blue or that sugar tastes sweet. Why? Because these are truths which you don’t bother to doubt or question. You just accept them. And your acceptance is what informs your awareness. Whether the awareness is a spiritual awareness or the common sense awareness of the sky being blue, it’s all the same. Your acceptance is what causes you to be aware, just as it is your doubt which causes you to be unaware. You cannot perceive what you do not believe. This is a spiritual law.

Your personal reality is a reflection of your beliefs. Your life experience is an expression of the ideas you have chosen to accept as true. Therefore, your reality is different from his reality because each of you (unique expressions of the One God) accepts a different array of ideas as true. Spiritual awareness is about transcending the darkness of your personal reality (a manifestation of your beliefs) into the light of The One Truthful Reality which is common to All. How do you transcend the darkness? The answer is simple – by accepting the light. Every time you let go of a false belief, you grow in spiritual awareness. You accept Truth by letting go of fallacy. Acceptance is about letting go, surrendering, completely giving yourself over to something. You want to grow in spiritual awareness? Simply be accepting of spiritual Truths. But how do you identify a spiritual Truth from a personal “truth?”

Spiritual Truths (with a capital T) evoke good feelings. These Truths stand alone, unadorned by justification or underlying desires. A Spiritual Truth is never a reason for anything. A spiritual Truth simply Is, and that is all. For instance, I am powerful is a spiritual Truth. I am worthy is a spiritual Truth. However, I am powerful because I am rich is not a spiritual Truth. I am worthy because I am giving is not a spiritual Truth. These are not spiritual Truths because they rely on reason to substantiate them. These may, however, be examples of personal “truths.” I say personal because these ideas and experiences are not common to All; but nevertheless may qualify as a “truth” (with a lower case t) in the sense that these ideas and understandings may be true to your experience because you have chosen to accept them as true. Personal truths are not synonymous with spiritual Truths, they are synonymous with delusions. Growing in spiritual awareness means letting go of these delusions.

Every time you let go of a delusion you grow in spiritual awareness. Every time you accept an idea which not only feels good, but is not adorned by any justification, you grow in spiritual awareness.

Spiritual awareness begins and ends within. This means it takes your being able to recognize spiritual Truths within yourself in order for these Truths to be apparent to you in the world around you. All of the universe is but a reflection of You, some aspect of You (as Spirit). But if you are unable to recognize yourself as Spirit, you will likewise not recognize yourself reflected in All that surrounds you. You are perfecting your knowledge of Self in spiritual awareness. As you come to more and more see your Self in others (not just people, but things, places, phenomena… literally everything) you become more spiritually aware. It doesn’t take effort. It simply takes an open mind and an open heart to accelerate your spiritual awareness. You can be mindful of spiritual Truths without spending untold hours dwelling on them, just as it you can be mindful that sugar tastes sweet without obsessively reminding yourself of this fact. If you are truly accepting of a spiritual Truth you will be mindful of It regardless of whether or not you are directly thinking about It. The only effort expended in developing spiritual awareness is the effort it takes to convince yourself to be accepting of the Truths you have thus far rejected. If you truly want to believe you will. Like planting a seed, the real work in raising it up will not be done by your hand it will just be done. Have faith. You cannot help but to grow in spiritual awareness.

Evette Gardner – About the Author:

Evette Gardner is the author of the self realization / advaita ebook Divine Heritage. She currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. You can read more of her articles on her web site and blog.