How To Move On From The Past with Mindfulness Meditation.
Part 2 – Mindfulness Guided Meditation – How to move on from the past.
“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.” Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
In the last post “Letting go of the past” we discussed the Buddhist theories of the 5 Hindrances and how they can keep us rooted and stuck in the past. One technique that is simple to apply and allows you to focus on how to move on from the past and free yourself from negative past emotions and hindrances is Mindfulness Meditation, or Shamatha.
To learn how to move on from the past we can use mindfulness guided meditation. This type of meditation aides us in slowing down, focusing on our needs and achieving a stable, calm and settled mind. As you develop your practice and your skillfulness in Mindfulness Meditation you begin to discover that the calmness and harmony that envelopes you is a pure and natural aspect of the mind.
Through mindfulness practice you begin to extend these feelings, strengthening them and developing greater inner peace and tranquility. As with any form of ongoing development, just like starting the gym or a new career, the more you do it the more your mind feels content and comfortable with it and eventually accepts it as part of you and habitualizes it. You will therefore remain in this peaceful and harmonious state without struggling or even thinking about it.
An important point is that when you begin mindfulness guided meditation you remain in a mindful state. Do not expect to enter zen-like trance or zone out or lose consciousness of your surroundings. Mindfulness needs and means there is still intelligence, you remain aware.
Sometimes people think when you enter a deep meditation you wont know what is occurring or happening in your environment, a bit like being fast asleep and while there are some forms of meditation that do induce those states, mindfulness meditation is not one of them. In mindfulness meditation you want to be aware and not deny sensory perception. We are working on personal self growth and will be dealing with thoughts, triggers and therefore need to be aware of all of our senses.
Mindfulness Guided Meditation.
1. You will need a favorable environment – How to move on from the past.
Certain conditions help when practicing mindfulness guided meditation. Spending time to create the right environment is well worth the effort as it will make it much easier for you to practice.
Try to establish an area where you will perform this meditation regularly and establish in it a feeling or sense of sacredness or serenity where you feel uplifted and at peace. Candles, incense, crystals, religious icons or a vase of flowers, it really doesn’t matter as long as when you enter that space, even if its a tiny corner of the bedroom, you feel like you are entering somewhere “special”.
This space should not be somewhere you will be easily disrupted or disturbed by overt noise. You should also avoid practicing mindfulness meditation if you are in a space where you could be disturbed or disrupted as this may provoke negative emotions and your mind is likely to focus or dwell on anger, annoyance or other negative emotions. This would set your practice back.
2. Begin your Mindfulness Meditation Practice – how to move on from the past.
In the beginning you should meditate often but for short periods of time—ten to twenty minutes is ample to start. If you force it too much, you give opportunity for your mind to become sidetracked or to begin taking the lead and then your practice can be dominated by the mind trying to steer back to old habits. In mindfulness meditation you are retraining the mind and this should be kept very, very simple. Keep it short and sharp Meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. Doing this I assure you is really working with the mind. After 10 minutes stop, get up and get on with the day, or evening.
Often people settle down to meditation and after about 10 minutes they just let their mind take them wherever it may. In mindfulness meditation the length of time is not important, it will increase as our skills increase, what is important is focus an creating personal self discipline.
When you sit down to begin your meditation remind yourself by saying over in your mind: “I’m here to work on my mindfulness and work on my mind. I’m here to train my mind. I am here to train my mind to focus on the future. I am here to be train myself in mindfulness” It’s important to say that, out loud or internally, but by verbalizing it we also are providing a kind of mental inspiration as we begin to practice. Setting the tone and intention is an important step in learning how to move on from the past.
3. Your Posture – how to move on from the past.
In Buddhism the belief is that our mind and body are at all times connected. The body’s energy is thought to flow better in an upright position, as when prone or slouched the flow of energy is distorted and may become blocked which in turn impacts your thought process and therefore your mindfulness meditation. Sitting up straight is important as the flow of energy will allow better mindfulness.
There are several ways in which you can sit for meditation. Directly on the floor or on a meditation cushion, such as zafu or gomden. On the floor or using a cushion you should sit with legs crossed and hand resting palm down on your thighs. It is also acceptable to use a chair and in this case it should be a chair where when sitting upright your spine is at right angles to your thighs and your lower legs are at right angles to thighs also.
Make sure your hips are not rotating or unbalanced, which creates tension, nor should they be to loose allowing you to start slouching. You are aiming for solid and upright, think a tree rooted to the earth, you should have a feeling of stability and strength.
Once you are in your position the first technique is to totally inhabit your body—this means start to really build a sense of your body. Try not to prop yourself up. Really feel the upright posture. Stretch your spine up tall and straight. Find a sense of solidness. Remind yourself you are in a solid state, your shoulders being level, your hips in line with your shoulders and level, your spine stretched between both points.
The main reason for this posture is to remain relaxed but still aware and awake! The mindfulness meditation is very precise and even while you are aiming for a relaxed, serene and tranquil state you must also ensure you stay alert and focused. If you find yourself getting too relaxed and losing focus or even falling asleep, reaffirm your posture, straighten the spine and remind yourself that this is important if you are to learn how to move on from the past.
4. A Mindful Gaze – How to move on from the past.
For strict mindfulness practice, your gaze should be at a slight downward angle and focus about 5-6 inches in front of your nose (don’t focus on your nose, you’ll just go cross eyed!) Your eyes should remain eyes open but not actively looking or staring at anything; your gaze is soft, unfocused and just a downward cast.
At this point we are trying to reduce our sensory input as much as possible. Even though you will still have a sense of awareness and that of what is around you try to keep your mind focused on the purpose of the meditation – training the mind. Simply put, the more you lift your gaze the more stimuli you make available to your mind and the more distracted you become. Thinks of it as an overhead lamp which is currently shining over the whole room, and then it shifts and it is focuses purely down right in front of you. You are purposefully ignoring all other occurrences and just gazing at this spot of light and placing all focus on you.
When we do our Mindfulness practice, we become more and more familiar with our mind, and in particular we learn to recognize when the mind begins to stray, these we know of as thoughts. To begin to learn how to really focus we choose an object of meditation to provide a central focus point and to counteract the natural desire to wander of in thought. The purpose of the object is simple it provides a mental anchor, as soon as we start to drift our focus points to the rock or the object and reminds us of the meditation and within milliseconds we are back and focused again. It is possible to use a physical object but even better is to use your breath as the object of meditation, as it also relaxes the body. Focus purely on the breath in, then the breath out. Let your breathing be the focus.
So to remind ourselves – take your preferred position, begin to focus and have a sense of your body, a sense of where you are, straighten and relax, fix your gaze and then begin to do nothing but focus on your breathing. Breathe naturally in and out and keep your mind purely on the flow of your breath. If other thoughts begin to enter straighten posture, refocus your gaze and then place attention on the breath.
5. Thoughts – How to move on from the past.
As you begin to learn and begin to practice mindfulness meditation other thoughts are bound to come up, do not let this distract or upset you, just say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.”
It boils down to how honest we can be with ourselves, how true we can be to ourselves and how important we determine this meditation is.
Do not beat yourself up if you stray. Everyone, at some point, gets caught in thought. If you get caught up and absorbed in personal thoughts try not to make it another ‘stick to beat yourself with’. Just try to be as realistic as possible.
Your mind is used to doing things certain ways and can be like a child, or free spirit, always wanting to dash off to explore something else. We can’t punish or push ourselves to hard, that makes it worse. If you are trying to be completely concept-free, with no thought processes happening at all, well it’s just not going to happen.
Over time your mind will be trained to purely focus on exactly what you want, and to become still. So for now when you notice that you have been lost in thought just bring yourself back to the focus on your breath. If another thought pops in, again just let it go and come back to the breath and resume.
Each meditation session is a journey of discovery. As we learn to stop and focus we will begin to understand the basic truth of who we are and how we can truly live and be happy. That we will explore in future posts.
However for now the most important lesson in mindfulness guided meditation is slowing and understanding the speed of our mind. It is you taking control of where your mind focuses and being able to beciome one-body and mind. The object of the meditation is to just be, to stop, to gaze and to breathe.
It may seem like the mind cant be tamed, but you will and you can, its just that it hasn’t been worked on in this way. The same as your muscles might complain if you haven’t been to gym for a while, the same your mind will complain when made to exert itself in another fashion.
What we are talking about is very practical. Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. We are working with our mind that experiences life directly and that needs to learn to stop and allow thoughts to pass without focus. Learning how to move on from the past means when these thoughts begin to appear we have a technique or we have trained our mind in such a way that they pass through, not noticed and certainly not having any undue impact upon us. We choose what we allow to be a focus and we choose what is sent right on by!
Therefore just by sitting and doing nothing we are doing a tremendous amount!
I hope you enjoyed this article about how to move on from the past with mindfulness meditation. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question please do so in the section below or you can contact me directly by clicking here.