The current trend in mindfulness and meditation introduces some valuable methods of training the mind, tools to negotiate everything from trauma to elite level performance, racing and training. To being present, in the moment, in the flow, whether you're on a mountain top or in a relationship. Setting intention has taken on a new level of use and meaning.
Even if, like when the yoga craze took hold, it's a trend, it's somewhat more shallow than the traditional Buddhist monk who's dedicated his life to mediating 12-20 hours a day. I notice an acceptance in talking about the mind, in coaching people about meditation, and altering a yoga practice to be less of a workout and more of an engagement in slowing down, watching where your mind goes.
Up until now, discussion about the mind was in reference to sickness, mental health, which always led to sorrowful fearful conversations about psychiatry or med cocktails. The expansion of investigative, inspiring conversation and research surrounding the mind, brain, even soul, is downright exciting. This is just one level of a lot of hoping dialogue going on that shows we're interested in changing the way we view health, mental health, mental diagnoses, treatments and prevention.
I feel my life is about understanding my mental and physical health so that I'm not a liability. So that I'm a contributor in this life. Meditation and the ample neuroscience research gives me so much support and motivation to understand the workings of the mind on whatever level possible. Addiction, and the tendencies or behaviors that lead to dependencies, or anxiety and depression. These occur because we don't have enough time outside TBH moving, but they occur also because we don't have tools to understand the working of our minds. the Buddhist path works for me. It's more about letting thoughts come and go, not holding on to any emotions, and dedicating oneself to a practice which aims to cultivate more awareness towards other's needs. In that, the focus isn't hyper oriented towards how I'm feeling, what does that mean, lets look in the mirror a really long time to see exactly who she is....but it's about finding a baseline sense of ease and peace with yourself whoever that it, you'll never know, and carrying on.
Here's my daily practice:
From about 45 minutes of yoga, I meditate. My own version of meditation is sitting, breathing and silence with some chanting. My animals and daughter carry on with their morning rituals, in tandem, sort of a symbiotic chaos. Through that, I retain my quiet vortex.
Knowing our minds, and training our minds enables us to undergo change more readily with less stress. How we choose to manage situations shapes our genetic expression, creates patterns, behavior. Epigenetics tells us we can change our genetic expression by changing our behavior. Meditation is being studied excessively to show that practiced regularly, meditation can change our genetic expression. In a study observing experienced meditators, after 8 hours of meditation, genetic changes were recorded. “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted. - See more at: http://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/#sthash.eCjOc5MN.dpuf”. The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Meditation is showing up as an effective method of reducing stress (cortisol hormone) and inflammation, one of the biggest causes of disease and disfunction. “The results show a down-regulation of genes that have been implicated in inflammation. The affected genes include the pro-inflammatory genes RIPK2 and COX2 as well as several histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes, which regulate the activity of other genes epigenetically by removing a type of chemical tag. What’s more, the extent to which some of those genes were downregulated was associated with faster cortisol recovery to a social stress test involving an impromptu speech and tasks requiring mental calculations performed in front of an audience and video camera”. - See more at: http://news.wisc.edu/study-reveals-gene-expression-changes-with-meditation/#sthash.eCjOc5MN.dpuf
Through my meditation practice, I build tools to manage stress, inflammation, fatigue and pain. I can adapt better to conflict, and define conflict how I choose. I’ve developed the patience to move into a situation I would normally consider devastating and terrifying, looking for the opportunity to have my paradigm shifted, to be defaced, unearthed and pop out the other side, with more knowledge, experience and compassion. I can sit in my yoga and meditation, and watch fear and regret, pain, sadness, guilt, joy, peace, bliss, deep on conditional love come and go, watch noise in my mind move through me as quickly as it arrived. Lasting only long enough to attempt an assault and leave a bit of a trace, that’s usually just swept away by the wind. Leaving traces. Meditation and yoga are my transportation tools to sweep myself outside of my reactionary self that is relentlessly importing data, stimuli and wanting to react instead of respond with patience. The data is negotiable, it's not fixed or determined. The stimuli impermanent. The creative opportunity to change information is rich and ample.
Breathing through my nose, filing my diaphragm, tells my body I'm not in a state of threat. I can disengage and use breath to communicate this message anytime and have calming results. My body feels light, effortless breathing, filling my body with slow energy and vibration, leaving behind the the mind’s temporary chaos. I use rapid breathing through the nose, and alternate nostrils, holding one closed at a time. Then, I hold my breath as I breath in, release, and hold at the bottom of the breath. The pain comes and goes. I stay with the ride, keep breathing and focusing on what’s right there, whatever obstacle, sensation, and let go of expectation, I can be light. In the lightness, is relief. I feel inflammation subside. I know in the struggle, I’m growing and that's priceless. Even if I don’t get absolute clarity, I’m bringing up the blockages, pain, confusion, and giving it a route out. We can create the most amazingly complex scenarios out of nothing. In meditation, I can only go towards the raw, unpredictable, unknown. And be more than a little fascinated with the human mind. Instead of being trapped. Anxiety, confusion, obsessions, fixations, depression all are negotiable. Often without meds and psychiatry.