Meditation: actively doing nothing…

We live in a world of appearances. Seeing someone exercising, constantly moving, puffing and sweating we would look at all that activity and probably say ” Wow they are really getting some work done, they are really making changes to their body.

Appearances can be deceiving though, while yes we can look at someone exercising and based on all the action we see assume correctly so that they are making a difference to their body and life, we may look at someone sitting perfectly still, eyes closed and assume they are doing nothing at all.

What is good for the body is to keep it moving, to keep pushing it to its limits. Our minds though are completely different, what is good for our minds is a period of stillness, of doing nothing. While doing nothing sounds like a waste of time in a world where we are constantly on the move, at times less is more and it’s especially the case in regards to our mind and meditation.

Meditation is the act of actively doing nothing. So how to we practice actively doing nothing? It’s quite simple, just sit, just sit and watch. We are so used to watching life go by, so used to getting swept up in our thoughts, feelings and emotions, constantly judging and labelling everything. Meditation is a break from all that mental effort, it’s all about just watching non judgmentally.

So how do we go about this practically? Our body and mind are linked. Sitting still, keeping our body still is important because we want all our awareness on what’s going on mentally not physically. Constant movement of the body steals our attention and distracts us which is why we sit still. While sitting still tends to slow the mind and thoughts, our goal isn’t to stop thinking or get upset if thoughts keep coming, our only goal is to sit and watch ” from a distance” how our minds operate non judgmentally.

A scientist studying the behaviour of a monkey in a lab isn’t going to be judgmental of the behaviour and actions of the monkey, the scientist is just there to observe and take notes. Meditation is exactly the same, we are there just to simply watch how our mind operates.

So what’s the point of all this? The point is to realise once you know how something operates, once you know how a trap operates you are free from it. Watching our thoughts and feelings come and go, seeing them come out of nothing and dissolve back into nothing makes us realise that if we can see the coming and going of every thought and feeling that none of these that we put so much time and energy into is worth worrying about or identifying with.

Clouds pass by in the sky, the clouds could be light and breezy or dark and filled with rain, lightening flashes, thunder booms, all these things happen in the sky but not to the sky. The sky is much greater and holds all these things within it yet it doesn’t identify or is affected by any of it.

Through constant meditation you will come to see that every thought, feeling, sensation and perception that we all experience and identify with ultimately has nothing to do with us or who we are at our core. All the things we experience are just impersonal passing phenomena that we identify with which many times causes us unnecessary suffering.

The act of mediation is about getting in touch and visiting our true self, diving underneath all the thoughts and feelings we identify with to arrive at our core which is ultimately, nothing. We are ultimately nothing, timeless and dimensionless, but the nothingness we are is ultimately what allows everything to be. We are nothing which is why we experience everything, it’s the perfect example of the Ying Yang principle in action.

I’ll leave it at that for now, thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Who’s offended? Mindfulness will reveal it..

It happens to all of us, someone says or does something that we deem offensive but have we ever stopped to really ask ” who is offended?” Of course the answer in our minds is so obvious that we feel it doesn’t warrant further investigation, ” Me, I’m offended!”

It’s the most natural and obvious answer but have we ever stopped to ask who I am that is offended? Someone calls us a bad name and we feel bad but us feeling bad is a reaction to something we call ” Me” being hurt or offended.

We may say ” I am my body” but does our body feel hurt when someone says something offensive? Does our nose, arm, ear or leg etc get upset? Of course not, how could they, how could any part of our body get upset by words?

We may say ” that’s true but my body has uncomfortable feelings when I’m offended” We need to remember that the uncomfortable feelings our body goes through isn’t because our body is offended but a reaction to something we call ” Me” or “I” being offended.

So if our true essence isn’t our body or mind because if our mind comes from our brain our brain is part of our body, then who or what are we then? The more you investigate this question you will eventually come to realise that who or what we are cannot be found, thought about or conceptualised.

We know we are experiencing a mind a body and a world but anything we experience can’t possibly be what we are because we see the coming and going of all experience. What we are can’t be known and can’t be offended. If what we truly are can’t be offended then why are we offended?

Eventually we come to see that who we think we are is just that, a thought. What we walk around day in, day out trying to improve, trying to protect etc is just an image in our head of words and ideas that we think we are. So what’s really happening when we get offended? Quite simply someone’s words are ” attacking” our thoughts, attacking our image which is just a thought. Our image and view of ourselves can be seen and described in thoughts and words so what we essentially have is words attacking words, thoughts attacking thoughts, thought wars! Lol

When you critically and mindfully see and experience what I’m saying you’ll come to realise how strange all this really is. We go around attacking people’s image and defending our image but it’s all just images in our minds.

What spiritually is essentially trying to reveal to us is that life is like watching a movie but we get so involved in the movie that we forget we are watching it and start believing and identifying with a character in the movie. We always experience the feelings and emotions of the main character in a movie when the movie is good and we are really into it. All that a spiritual teacher is trying to point out is to remember we aren’t the character but the one watching it.

I mentioned the word mindful just earlier and mindfulness is a powerful practice and habit to get into to so we can see this for ourselves. Particularly being mindful of our thoughts, watching our thoughts come and go, watching our feelings come and go, realising that all thoughts and feelings rise out of the emptiness we are and dissolve back into it.

We’ve spent a whole life time believing who we are is a body, mind and image, reading this post won’t break that conditioning but hopefully if you have grasped what I’m saying it’s given you food for thought to actually be mindful and watch what is really happening in our lives as opposed to what we assume is happening.

How to we practice mindfulness? Well meditation goes along way to developing the skill which I’ve wrote about previously and is a whole separate post in itself. For now though the takeaway point of this post is to stop assuming and reacting to life and to the words and actions of others and start observing what truly is happening.

You have, are and always will be much greater than you think, your only job when you are ready is to see and realise it for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Mindfulness, it can save your life…

Mindfulness, the act of paying attention to what’s happening while it’s happening, meditation in motion. Anyone who has heard of mindfulness would have heard that it’s a great practice and has so many mental health benefits.

The act of paying attention to what’s happening while it’s happening particularly in regards to our thoughts and feelings, especially when they are negative can do wonders for our mental well being. Mindfulness though can help in every aspect of our lives, it could even literally save our life.

Philosophy and Spirituality are two great passions in my life. Another recent passion has been learning self defence and the mechanics of learning to fight. One thing becomes fairly obvious quite quickly when studying this type of training, the ability to be aware or your surroundings and the ability to read people’s body language is the greatest asset to personal safety, to not put ourselves in situations that could be dangerous is 99% of the work in learning to defend ourselves.

How often do we see or have been guilty of ourselves ( I know I have) of sleep walking through life, especially in public, looking down at our phones while walking at times even with headphones in so now we can’t see or hear what’s happening around us.

Technology has changed the world and it’s not a bad thing, everything changes and how we use technology changes but a little awareness or mindfulness can go along way. When we are so absorbed in our heads or technology especially in public, we become sitting ducks, easy prey for criminals. Lack of awareness is a criminals best friend, it’s so easy to be attacked, mugged or our phones or other belongings simply snatched from us when we aren’t aware of what and who are around us.

Good self defence teaches mindfulness, being mindful of our surroundings at all times so we can avoid trouble as soon as possible. It doesn’t mean walking around paranoid it just means being in the moment and just absorbing everything that is happening while it’s happening and by doing so we will become a lot more aware of what’s happening in our environment moment to moment.

Mindfulness can not only save our possessions from being stolen or our bodies being harmed or taken in a vicious assault, it can also save our relationships. The more mindful we become the more we become aware of our loved ones body language, the more we become aware also of what they are truly saying, We become aware of the words coming out of our own mouths too that can be hurtful or destructive.

We can’t change what we aren’t aware of, if we are so absorbed in our minds and feelings we tend to miss how others are reacting to what we are saying or don’t even listen to what they are saying and are just waiting for our turn to talk especially in an argument.

Most of us have spent the majority of our lives on autopilot, not really aware of what we are doing or saying, it’s not our fault, our modern culture thrives on distracted unmindful people, its just is what it is.

Nothing in life is a problem until it starts affecting us in some way, whether we choose to be more mindful of not is up to us but in the long run being more mindful can save us in so many situations.

Our mental health and well being can be improved when we just stop and watch our thoughts and feelings without getting swept up in them and allowing them to pass in their own time. It can also save our relationships as we become more mindful of our thoughts, words and body language and the and words and body language of those around us. It can save our lives and possessions as we become more aware and mindful in public, being able to spot danger and possible threats sooner. And finally being more mindful just helps us appreciate this thing we call “life” a little more, it helps us appreciate and marvel at what a miracle and mystery it is just to know we are alive.

My thoughts anyway, thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Lucid dreams, a side effect of meditation.

Frequent meditation over a long period of time has many positive benefits. Reductions in stress, anxiety and depression to name a few. Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what’s happening while it’s happening, in a sense to ” take a step back” and view what’s happening objectively.

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness and especially in this day and age, we are becoming really good at being mindless, walking around on autopilot, thinking we are awake but really sleep walking through life.

Lucid dreaming, for anyone not familiar with the phrase, is the ability to, or the sudden realisation that, while in the midst of a dream you know you are dreaming, when this realisation occurs it’s an amazing feeling, what you took to be real is realised just to be a projection of your own mind, you are in a sense ” enlightened” in the dream state, knowing for certain that everything and everyone you encounter is a part of your own mind, at which point you can start altering the dream at your desire, this too takes practice though.

What we practice often, good or bad we become really good at. It is said that all young children are natural lucid dreamers, that it is our default state of dreaming but we eventually lose the ability as we get older and as the world conditions us to see it a certain way.

As we age and are taught how to see the world, we take the ideas and concepts taught to us as reality, as something that is really real, we then start seeing life through our conditioning, we take everything that is presented to us as real, forgetting it’s all just ideas and concepts.

As we start to sleep walk through life, taking the world to be solid and real, we start getting good at what we practice. How we view and interact with daily life spills over into the dream state, in the midst of a dream we take it to be real and not question anything because that’s what we practice in daily life.

So how does meditation and mindfulness help us have more lucid dreams? Meditation and mindfulness is the act of being in reality, of experiencing reality how it is not how we think it is. When we truly start paying attention more and more to what’s happening in the present moment, when we start making a habit of becoming lucid to life, that habit starts creeping into our dream state and we become lucid in our dreams.

Like anything in life it takes time though and we aren’t going to lucid dream every night, the frequency of lucid dreams will go up though when we start practicing these daytime practices of meditation and mindfulness. The spiritual path is about waking up, it’s about waking up to life, to seeing reality as it is not how we think it is, when we start waking up to life we start waking up in our dreams too and when that happens it opens up a whole new world to us.

There are many more daytime practices that can assist in having more lucid dreams but I’ll leave it at that for now. Just realise though that a daily meditation and mindfulness practice will only help not hurt the process. I have much more to write on the subject but until then, thanks for reading and have a great day.

Simon Coleman.

Mindfulness, meditation in motion.

Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, Mindfulness is the informal practice of meditation. We may meditate for relaxation, stress reduction etc but one of the main purposes should be to practice mindfulness.

When we sit still in silence and start becoming aware of our breathing, thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds of whatever appears in our present moment experience we are practicing mindfulness. The formal setting that we give ourselves in meditation makes the practice a lot easier, it’s easier to be mindful under those conditions, it can get harder though in the hustle and bustle of life but like anything else it just takes practice.

Anyone that takes up exercise doesn’t expect to lift weights once and get bigger muscles, they don’t say ” well I tried lifting weights and I’m not any bigger so maybe I’m not good at it” everything takes time, meditation and mindfulness are a practice, a practice that never ends, Doctors practice medicine, they are always continuing to learn, we practice mindfulness, a process that never ends but becomes a lot easier over time.

So how do we practice mindfulness in day to day life? All we are trying to do is to bring our attention back to something happening in the present moment. We have five senses, all of our senses are trapped in the present moment, in fact all life is trapped in the present moment, it’s only our minds that have the ability to ” time travel” to the past or future.

Our minds have spent decades drifting off into thought stories of past and future, it gets absorbed in these stories and takes them for reality, the trick then when you catch yourself drifting off into thinking is to ask yourself ” what’s happening right now?, I’m regretting past events but where are they now? I’m stressing future events but where are those thoughts now?”. A thought can’t be taken and put on the table for everyone to see, thoughts aren’t reality, the have as much reality as a dream.

Like I said, whenever our attention wanders we must practice bringing our attention back to something happening now. What am I feeling right now? What am I seeing or hearing right now? We must get out of our minds and come to our senses. This is a constant practice, our default response when we are on auto pilot is to drift off into thinking, in time though with enough mindfulness practice of bringing attention back to something happening in the present moment, our default response on auto pilot will be to focus on reality, to focus on something happening ” Now” without any stories attached to it.

I’ll leave it at that for now, this blog will be full off more tips ideas and philosophies in the coming year, just remember though, mindfulness and meditation are daily practices that no one is 100% good at, they are life long practices, practices that slowly will bring in a sense of peace and calm into our lives gradually as we slowly get out of our heads more and more and back into our senses, back into reality. Thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Meditation, how to do it..

The title is a bit misleading, there is more than one way to meditate but in this post I’m going to share how I personally do it, if it doesn’t resonate with you that’s perfectly fine, we all need to find what works for us.

Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, Mindfulness is the informal practice of meditation, the two work together and strengthen one another, I’ll get into mindfulness in a future post.

As for meditation, one of the most important aspects is our posture, we need an alert, upright posture, but like anything there is always a middle way. We don’t want to be too tense and rigid but at the same time not too relaxed, an important aspect of our posture in meditation is that our back remains straight and unsupported. It needs to remain unsupported to keep us awake and alert, our mind and body work together, a sloppy posture makes a sloppy mind.

We can sit crossed legged on the floor, on a chair ( with our back unsupported) or we can use a meditation bench, which is what I personally use, a picture of it is found below, you kneel on it and it takes the pressure off your legs.

However you decide to sit though make sure you are comfortable, that you can maintain the position for at least 20 mins. Like I said earlier the posture needs to be upright, alert and stable. We want our body to be able to hold this posture and remain still for a set period of time, when we hold our body still our mind eventually calms down and becomes still too. My personal posture is in the picture below while I sit on the meditation bench.

Once we are settled and comfortable in our posture we want to close our eyes and bring our attention to our breathing. It’s preferred to breathe in and out of our nose but if you can’t, breathing through the mouth is perfectly ok too. Our breathing should be felt from our diaphragm not our chest, chest breathing promotes shallow breathing, we want relaxed breaths from our diaphragm. To focus on our breathing means to become aware of the feeling of it, to be aware that it is happening, the reason we become aware of our breath is because it’s a present moment experience, we have no option but to be in the present when we focus on it.

I view following my breathing as a kind of a home base though, as I follow it, if something else grabs my attention say a sound, a feeling, or even a thought I focus on that which has grabbed my attention, become aware of it then return back to home base, the breath. Meditation is about becoming aware of what’s happening while it’s happening and accepting what’s happening with non judgement and openness.

We can’t do meditation wrong, the only goal we have is to just sit still for a certain period of time and watch what comes up, some meditation sessions your mind will be racing and that’s ok, become aware of that and accept it’s happening, other days your mind will be calm and peaceful, that’s ok, become aware of it and accept it’s happening. What we are trying to do is to just sit, be open and accepting to whatever arises, to realise we see the beginning and end of every thought, feeling, perception and sensation, to realise because we are able to do this it means we can’t possibly be any of those things we do become aware of.

Meditation as I mentioned earlier is the formal practice of mindfulness, what will slowly begin to happen the more you practice is that you will take the accepting, non judgmental attitude that you cultivate on the meditation cushion into everyday life which is the secret to inner peace. Peace comes from acceptance of what is, even if it means we must accept that we can’t accept a situation.

All we must do is just sit and watch. Watch frustration come and go, watch boredom come and go, watch feelings of calm come and go, our job isn’t to achieve any particular experience or state but to realise you are that which all experiences and states come and go within.

I usually meditate for 45 minutes per day with my longest being 3 hours and shortest 5 minutes, you can sit for any length of time, what’s more important than time is consistency, doing 10 mins a day is better than 1 hour once a week, treat it as showering or brushing your teeth, it’s daily hygiene for the mind.

I’ll leave it at that for now, any questions or thoughts feel free to leave a comment below, thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Meditation, why bother..?

Meditation, why bother? To someone looking from the outside it may seem like one of the most unproductive things you could do, sitting still in silence with eyes closed and not moving for a set period of time, couldn’t that 20 mins to an hour be better spent doing something more productive?

Our minds are addicted to thinking but too much of it causes problems, Our bodies enjoy resting but too much inactivity isn’t healthy either. Our minds need a set time to remain still just as our bodies need a set time to engage in activity.

Our minds feel a one size fits all approach solves all of lifes problems, it feels “ doing” whether physically or mentally solves all problems. In certain situations we need to take action, in other situations we need inaction, especially with our feelings and many useless thoughts. Our feelings require no action, negative thoughts require no action, if we don’t learn how to sit with and face uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, to learn how to “ do nothing” with them, we are always gonna be trying to fix, get rid of, or react to uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, reacting is the worst thing you can do, especially in the midst of anger.

What meditation can teach us is the ability to observe thoughts and feelings arise, watch them come and go like a person watching the traffic pass along a busy road and become detached from them, to realise they aren’t us and more importantly give us a chance to respond to situations not react.

So much trouble in our lives comes from reacting to thoughts and emotions, if we learn to harness the ability to remain calm then take action, our lives would go a lot smoother. Another thing meditation can teach us is non distraction , in a world full of distraction and reaction learning the ability not to react and not to be distracted is a great assest, the majority of people are reactive and distracted, so if you aren’t like the majority you have an advantage.

There are many more benefits to meditation but I thought I’d mention just a few to get anyone new to the topic interested. To sum up, the ability to watch your thoughts and feelings in a detached way without reacting to them and only responding if the situation calls for it is powerful, the ability to remain focused and not distracted is another powerful benefit.

In a world full of impulse, emotion and distraction, the ability to do the opposite will improve your life tremendously, this post was just to peak your interest, in a future post I’ll talk about ways to practice meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, I’ll also discuss how mindfulness and meditation are really the same practice, with one strengthening the other, until then thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.