Evolution Through Meditation
Mindful Stress Reduction
Mindfulness Meditation offers exploration of our mind body interactions with the intentions of healing and finding contentment with life as it simply is. Through observation and deep listening we can better understand ourselves, our friends and family. First, we should acknowledge that we as a species are largely unconscious. We are often in auto pilot when driving, walking and eating. Meditation strengthens our ability to focus and consolidate mental strength.
From my experience, we can sense revelations during meditation that shift the bias of our implicit knowledge. In the yogic realm we may practice pratyahara, a Sanskrit term of deep inner reflection. The practice of looking inward allows us to bring our minds back “online” as opposed to our preoccupation with events of the past, or contemplating the future. Sitting with one’s self, we begin to see how we might feel led by desire and habit, endlessly seeking sensory stimuli.
Can we invite a shift in our perceptions or consciousness without getting too metaphysical? Does it need to be steeped in theology? Those preferences are up to you. One path that does not embrace such platitudes is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR, was Influenced by the work of Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh. The efficacy of MBSR is supported by recent findings in brain MRI research. MBSR is sought after by top corporations for training for physicians, executives and administration.
Those who practice MBSR often refer to themselves as "feeling people who think."
One goal in meditation is to embrace the narrative of equanimity in all things. Eventually we stand strong with the stark reality of impermanence. With inner reflection, we can identify when we engage in reactionary behaviours. Our brain and health cannot support a stress response level that keeps our sympathetic nervous system on high alert. On a side note, we know stress can create unhealthy levels of cortisol in our brains.
There are two roads diverged in a wood with regards to how we function and endure in our world. Our first state of being is considered the low road, governed by our amygdala -a critical part of our brain that evaluates each experience on an emotional and sensory level. Visualize a complex alarm system in which the amygdala executes a quick flight or fight response. This response has given us our survival as a species, and the choices of our cautious ancestors led to their offspring today. MBSR cultivates the high road through the prefrontal cortex, residing in the right and left hemisphere of our brain. It is through the right and left prefrontal cortex that we are able to self regulate our behaviours and arousals. MBSR enhances the regulation of our limbic system, and in yogic terms, brings us mindfully back to focus.
As Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds us, simply sit still. Our meditation practice asks us to observe our breathing, thoughts and feelings. The practice of deep listening can bring about healing to the one who speaks of their suffering, and awaken compassion within yourself. From this place of compassion we can transfer this feeling of goodwill to others. We then begin to nurture the qualities of meditation. Over time, you may sense a shift in your consciousness that speaks to contentment within.