Sunday, June 24, 2012
When you are going some where that you have never been before it is common to use a map to plan your way. You can use an atlas or a GPS in your car, even your smart phone can guide you as you go. I have a MAPp that I use to guide me during meditation and you can use it too.
MAPp is an acronym for mindfulness, acceptance and positive projection. We will look each of these separately and then we can put them together and see where it takes us.
One of the easiest ways to meditate is to watch your breath. You simply look for the in and out phases of each respiration, noticing the pause between each breath which I have found (after much searching...must be a slow learner) comes at the end of your exhalation. It is the point of stillness. Take a moment now, if you'd like, to see if you can find the pause. The very act of noticing the pause and concentrating on it is an example of mindfulness.
Generally, mindfulness is explained as being centered in the present moment. It is not about an experience that is surreal or about being "zoned out". That is why you may hear the phrase "just so". My understanding of just so-ness is that is is accepting things as they are right now. So if you are "sitting" (comfortably... it is not necessary to sit in pretzel mode unless you can and like to) and watching your breath, noticing the pause, accepting whatever noise, distractions or thoughts that come your way, but staying focused on your breath you are meditating. You are mindful.
Acceptance has several meanings. First is the acceptance we discussed above: just so acceptance. The other kind of acceptance is letting go of expectations when we meditate. We accept whatever experience comes while we sit.
At times I have trouble letting my thoughts float like clouds above my head barely noticed. (oooh that one is :( an angry client...Ow). At that point acceptance can be letting my head talk, embracing the noise which is of my own making as I continue to watch my breath between the comments or I may switch from watching my breath to a mantra (a repeated word or phrase) accepting that I require a more focused type of meditation today.
How do you decide? Look at the struggle level. Meditation is not about everything being happy and positive all the time, stuff comes up, but it is about the practice. Sitting as it is generally called is effective when we practice it on a regular basis. 10 minutes a day is a good amount of time to start with, but fighting or struggling through it defeats the purpose. It isn't necessary to struggle either, because there are many different ways to practice, some that require no "sitting" at all.
So I accept when my talking head comes for a visit, I accept that my leg is asleep or my nose is running. I accept the neighbor mowing his lawn, I accept that I may find it better to practice with an alternative method of meditating today. I accept 10 minutes of mindfulness to the best of my ability, whatever that experience is. Perfect! You are mindful and accepting now.
Let's move on to positive projection. You won't find this mentioned in most meditation classes, because it is not mindful or accepting, it is a desire. Desires are not centered in now, they are in the future. You want peace of mind and the health benefits that less stress will bring so you meditate, but even as you sit the results are in the future. Sitting is the present experience. Positive projection is the why.
I think of it as a walk to the lake at the park. You want to go sit by the lake so you walk the three blocks to get there. As you walk the first block you enjoy the fresh air and the trees. You are mindful. The next block you continue to walk enjoying the flowers when suddenly a tree branch falls. You notice it, step around it and continue on your way. You are accepting. The last block passes quickly and there you are at the lake in the park. It is peacefully lapping the shore just as you imagined it would be when you set out. Just as you projected, I will walk to the lake and now you have. That is my the simplest explanation of positive projection.
I do not think meditation is goal oriented in and of itself, but I realize that meditation has an aspect that is about intention. Positive projection is the part of the MAPp where we acknowledge and perhaps set our intention. The mind is a powerful tool in our life. It can bring us joy or sorrow. That is why we want our projections to be positive. Meditation is about quieting the mind and connecting with the stillness that is at the center of who we really are, beyond joy and sorrow. When we can glimpse that place we can continue to follow the map of our lives with better health and well being.
The map is easy to follow. Why not give it a try?
Take a moment to sit
Watch your breath flowing in and out
Notice the pause between breaths
That is the point of stillness
Gift yourself a few moments each day to meditate: mindful, accepting and positive.
You deserve it!
Is brown rice really better for you than white rice?
Although brown and white rice have very similar calorie and carbohydrate contents, brown rice has more fiber, magnesium, B1 and B3. To learn more go to http://www.care2.com/greenliving/brownrice-vs-whiterice.html
I prefer the chewy texture of brown rice, especially when used as a side to eggplant curry. Yum!
Up Next: Mantras, an easy way to quiet the talking heads who join you like a bad house guest when you meditate.
See you soon...
PS: please excuse the white highlighting, it is unintentional and i am working to fix it, thanks