In last week’s post, I talked about what mindfulness is. I also suggested trying an exercise where you bring to mind an embarrassing moment and just pay attention to what comes up for you on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. In other words, practice mindfulness.
I’ve been doing this exercise myself, bringing to mind the embarrassing moment I described of being laughed at as a child. Over the week, the pain associated with this memory has dissipated. Over time, the loving space I created around my pain naturally extended to include my whole journey as an overweight person. I began to feel for other people too. In fact, the whole exercise was quite positive for me. How was it for you?
Objects of Meditation
Today, I’d like to talk briefly about objects of meditation and how they work in mindfulness meditation practice. A meditation object is any object we focus our attention on during meditation, such as the breath. It’s a tool that helps us get out of our head (where our attention is most of the time).
We don’t do this because thinking is “bad,” but rather to expand our sense of present-moment awareness beyond our own storylines. Most importantly, perhaps, we do this to notice how things really are.
How are we really feeling? for instance. Have you ever had one of those moments where you’ve been going, going, going and then suddenly you realize just how tired you are?
What is life really like? is another good question. We tend to create an “image” in our mind (some would say it’s an illusion) where everything is stable and secure. We don’t change much. Life doesn’t change much. It’s how we protect ourselves from the uncertainties of life.
Mindfulness practice challenges us to both accept and relax with life as it really is: impermanent, uncertain, unpredictable, scary at times, and often difficult.
Of course, mindfulness also helps us to pay attention to the good things and all the beauty that surrounds us as well.
Finding Stillness in the Body
I’m prone to anxiety. Therefore, stillness is a highly supportive object of meditation for me. Even in everyday life, when anxiety comes up, I like to ground myself in stillness. It helps me to relax and sort through what’s troubling me.
Try It Now
See if you can connect with stillness. If you like, close your eyes and listen to the two and a half minute audio recording of the Stillness Meditation instructions below.
Take a deep breath and pause for just a moment.
Bring your awareness down into your body.
First, notice the stillness of your body.
Of course, the body is never entirely still is it? There’s always the movement of your breathing and blood coursing through your veins. Yet, in this moment of pausing, everything is relatively still.
Now. Dig a little deeper. Can you feel the stillness in your energy body? The kind of stillness you feel when you’re deeply relaxed, like just after a good massage or a hot soak.
It helps to consciously let go of all the busyness of the day. Just let all the effort, all the worry, all the urgency go. Breathe it out and relax deeply.
Then, when you feel this deeper stillness (another term for it might be relaxed presence), simply remain mindful of it. Let stillness become the object of your meditation.
The point is to connect with the stillness. Keep bringing your awareness back to just this.
If you’re mind wanders as it will, that’s okay. Just keep coming back to the stillness.
Do this for one minute, five minutes, ten minutes or twenty. Notice how you feel when you’re done.
You are the stillness behind the mental noise,Eckhart Tolle
You are the love and joy beneath the pain.