Tag Archives: breath

Mountains and mindfulness

man meditating

After coming from ‘The Mountain’ in North Carolina, nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains, the image of a mountain is vivid in my mind. It made me think how important the notion of it is in Mindfulness and MBSR.

Frequently when we do Sitting Meditation, crossed legged on the floor, or sitting on a chair, we use the image of a mountain, emerging with majesty, with dignity, like us, sitting in an upright position in a dignified posture, aware of our breathing, rooted, motionless, oblivious to what is happening around. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “by becoming the mountain in our meditation, we can link up with its strength and stability, and adopt them for our own”.

We also use the parallelism with a mountain when we do Mindful yoga. Standing with our feet shoulder-width apart, our arms parallel to our body. Our spine erect, standing with dignity, focusing our awareness on the connection with the floor. Being with our feet grounded, anchored, stable, like a mountain emerging from the earth. Going back to it again and again when we connect from one posture to the next while we practise Mindful movement. Knowing that we can come back to it frequently throughout the day, whatever we are doing, wherever we may be. Feeling secure, feeling connected, feeling rooted, feeling present.

Let the mountains inspire us, men who love men, while we practise Mindfulness meditation, let’s have them present in our imagination, in our mind, in our body.

Sources:
Kabat-Zinn, John. Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion, 1994.

MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

MSBR Mindfulness

You may already be familiar to what MBSR stands for, and know that these four letters mean Mindfulness-based stress reduction.

As you already know, it was created by Jon Kabat-Zin in the late seventies. Although it is based in Buddhist meditation principles, the course it’s structured throughout 8 weeks, and its main aim is to reduce stress and to give you tools to bring awareness to your life moment by moment.

The main meditation practices that are used in the course are sitting meditation, body scan, walking meditation, and mindful yoga, also known as mindful movement.

Those are different types of what is known as formal practice. In all of them the main anchor or object of awareness, at least at the beginning, is the breath. As Jon Kabat-Zin says: “Try it for a few years and see what happens”.

Informal practices are also introduced. This means bringing attention to different activities that we all usually do in our daily life, like eating, brushing our teeth or washing the dirty dishes.
Sessions are complemented with weekly practice at home listening to Cds and using reading material.
When a group is established at the beginning of the course a bond and a commitment is created.

A bond between the facilitator and the participants, and also among the participants themselves which will develop and grow as the course goes on. It is like weaving a patchwork quilt between all the participants of the course including the facilitator.

A commitment to attend all the classes for the benefit of one self and the rest. And a commitment to do the home practice during the week after each session.

Many questions can come to our minds before starting an MBSR Course.

Do I need to be an experienced meditator? Not at all. It’s not about perfection, nor about competing with yourself or others. It’s as simple as focusing on the breath, and going back to it every time the mind wanders. It is about befriending something as familiar as the breath, which has been with us since our birth, and that will be with us until we die, but that frequently we are not aware it’s there.

Do I have to have practiced yoga in order to do mindful movement? Not at all. Mindful movement focuses on being aware of our body when it moves. It can be as simple as raising your eyebrows, or moving your feet.

What benefits can I get by doing the course? You will get to understand stress better and how to reduce it. You will learn how to deal with thoughts, emotions and feelings in a more skillful way.