Are you mindful? - Food for the Brain

Are you mindful?

Do you have control over your mind or does it have control over you? A guru was once asked ‘Does your mind think?’ The guru replied ‘Only when I want it to.” Does that sound almost impossible?  Is your mind ‘out of control’ going wherever it wants, and often in the direction of negativity, cynicism, fear, worry or anxiety?

There are various different forms of meditation, such as mindfulness, who purpose it to draw your attention back to the space in which those thoughts and feelings occur. A 9th century Indian sage, Vasugupta says “I am happy, I am sad, I am frustrated, etc. These thoughts are like beads on a necklace of I am.” All forms of meditation have the same goal to bring your awareness to awareness itself. This might sound lofty but this process of observing your thoughts, feelings or mood states buys you enough distance or freedom to be able to move beyond those repetitive and negative thoughts which, according to research at Stanford University, make up the majority of our thoughts.

It’s all a question of where you choose to put your attention. What we call ‘my mind’ is really a construct we create from thoughts, feelings and sensations that we label as ‘depressed’, ‘stressed’, ‘anxious’. By training your attention to observe these thoughts, feelings, sensations but not being ‘attached’ to them you gain more control over your mind.

If you are particularly ‘in your head’ there are more heart-centred ways of developing this meditative ability such as Heartmath. In some meditative techniques one puts ones attention in the space between the eyebrows, the ‘third eye’, which correlates with the pineal gland in the centre of the head. In others, for example from the zen or t’ao traditions, just below the belly, known as the ‘tan t’ien in t’ai chi’ or the ‘hara’ in the Japanese martial arts. This is the centre of gravity. In others, the attention is directed towards the heart.

A great book to read is Sally Kempton’s ‘Meditation for the Love of it’ both for simple exercises it leads you through but also for understanding this territory. Just reading it will give you a new perspective.

So, you have some options. In your area there will be someone teaching mindfulness meditation. This was made popular by Jon Kabat-Zinn. If you’d like a taste of this here’s a 1-hour mindfulness training session he led at Google on you tube

There is likely to be someone teaching Heartmath near you and, if not, you can do this by zoom. Check out this directory of certified practitioners.

Headspace  is one of the most highly rated apps in this arena:

Like everything, if you’d like to move your attention away from negative thoughts, it takes a bit of training or effort. The world is as you see it. Do you see it as a wonderful world or a terrible place?

Watch this 3-minute music video, absorb the words, and understand that how we interpret the world defines how we feel.