Why Be Mindful? Why Meditate?
To be mindful of your actions, your thoughts and your relations with others is your foundation for the practice of well-being. Your mind is powerful. Your sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts determine whether you are happy, sad, angry or at ease, whether you are comfortable or stressed, or overwhelmed.
When you begin to engage in mindfulness/meditation you begin to get acquainted with the nature of your sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts. While you sit with this awareness of your sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts as they arise and disappear, in an atmosphere of loving kindness, you acknowledge the presence of these sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts and allow them to move on. Through this process you get to know yourself. What kinds of feelings predominate? What are the sensations that you experience? Do they happen often? What sorts of thoughts do you have? Are they useful thoughts? Do they support your well-being? You begin to know yourself from the inside. And you learn to befriend yourself.
When this befriending begins you then begin to understand what sets you off, what helps you feel at ease, what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad. You begin the process of understanding your own nature. All of this is done in an atmosphere of loving kindness, of careful and deliberate tending, with a gentle curiosity (and outright wonder) toward who you are and what you have become, as well as the who you are becoming.
Like learning to knit or throw a pot on a wheel, this process of befriending takes time and practice. You have to acquire knitting needles; you need to find a potter’s wheel. To befriend yourself you need to establish a place to sit and you need to build a ten-minute space in your day to devote to spending time with yourself in silence. There are accoutrements — a cushion or a chair — perhaps a candle. Loose, comfortable clothing is appreciated.
When you first begin to sit, perhaps one of the first observations you make is what is going on in your own mind. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations may be relentless, insistent. These thoughts may shout, plead and cajole. You may feel anxious, agitated, you may want to be anywhere but here - alone with no one but yourself.
Your task is to sit through all of it and to gently bring your awareness back to your breath. Eventually and over time your thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions will quiet down. Like mud in an agitated pond whose waters are allowed to remain still, in time these currents of thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations will settle and you find yourself engaging in moments of spaciousness: of peace and tranquility.
To meditate is to speak the language of being. With practice, meditation provides you with an internal space that is a source for profound peace and renewal. This internal encounter with the fabric of existence is not only with your own human nature, but with the existence of all of nature herself. To be in conscious relation with nature is to understand the narrative of well-being.
For more on well-being click here (Nature's Narrative)