Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mindfulness and Starting a Spiritual Practice

I occasionally like to start at the beginning again with these blogs because I know many people are coming here with no spiritual practice whatsoever (BTW, if you are brand new to the blog and to spirituality, please click over to my Starting Out section). Sometimes people have an awakening and have no spiritual tools at all. And furthermore, it's never a bad thing to stop and start over again no matter where you think you are in your spiritual path.

So here are a few of my spirituality blog posts to encourage you to develop more awareness in your regular practices and to potentially begin again...because ultimately every day, we are beginning again.

What Is Mindfulness?
Well, you probably haven't seen this term too much in my writing. It essentially means to bring awareness to whatever it is you are focusing on. I don't use it because it has the word "mind" in it, and I don't want you to get stuck in thinking that the mind is doing all of this. It really is a limited tool, and it needs to be understood for both its strengths and weaknesses. For instance, I had the best carrot cake of my life this weekend at a cafe with some friends. It was moist, and the carrots were tender. The icing was creamy and rich, but not overly sweet. I mean it was just plain awesomeness in my mouth, but with all these words, can you taste this? No, of course not. This is a limitation of the mind. My thoughts and words cannot convey taste (although maybe a few of you are now craving carrot cake).

Hence, I usually encourage you to bring "awareness" to something. How your body feels when it is alive and aware can tell you so much. Sure, your mind can help interpret it. However, as many of you in awakening have found out, there's all kinds of messages and sensations locked in your bodies that get released, and those messages may make "no sense." Essentially, the mind doesn't know how to interpret them. And that's why we learn how to be with those sensations. We can be aware of them. In this same way, we learn to be with our feelings and with energetic/intuitive impulses that may move through us.

Mindfulness for Your Body Blog: Creating a New Relationship With Your Body

Since some of you may be brand new, the whole idea of being mindful and aware of your body may be also be brand new. No worries. The spirituality blog post linked above will help you to take a step back and see a bigger context. Some of the statistics are probably a little dated now, but I honestly don't think the number of people overweight has gone down. Maybe it has. I would love to see a wave of health conscious take hold the world.

And it can. It can start with you. Because your body is sacred, and it's the only one you get in this lifetime. Make the best of it.

Mindfulness for Your Heart Blog: Falling in Love with Yourself

This next spiritual blog post may be more than you are initially ready for, but it's still a great starting point. It emphasizes the critical importance of self-love. I know that many of you may be unfamiliar with self-love. You may confuse it with ego-love, so I will say this before you read that spiritual post: self-love is complete acceptance of yourself as you are. Ego-love always comes with strings attached and reasons to like yourself or not.

Mindfulness for Your Intellect Blog: Taming Your Intellectual Power

Of course, we also have to get the mind back in line. So this blog helps you to see what's happened here, and it can help you to build a framework for looking at how you think and view yourself. Learning how to compassionately question ourselves creates space for change and growth. We have to get away from the reactive defensive mechanisms that keep us locked in cycles of pain and avoid discomfort (which is really ironic, right? By avoiding what we think is uncomfortable, we continue cycles of pain). So click on to that spiritual blog post to start seeing how you can be more mindful with your mind.

The Beginning of Mindfulness and the Long Road Ahead
Just noticing where you are is a big first step. And every day wherever you feel like you are in your path, it's important to just notice where you are. Bring awareness to this moment. Each moment is precious, sacred, and fleeting. There will never be another one like it, so I encourage you to be mindful of the temporariness of it all and bring your awareness to things that truly matter most to your heart and soul.

Thanks to my student, Jenn, for the lovely picture.
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