“ … The only difference
That I see
Is you are exactly the same
As you used to be
… With bow and arrow
And the artificial heart …
Made of dishonour
He loaded the cannon
With a jealous appetite …
You always said that you needed some
But you always had more, more than anyone … “
~ The Wildflowers ~ The Difference ~
A great deal of information is available regarding meditation and mindfulness. Yet do most truly understand the relationship between the two?
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment on purpose and non-judgemental. Meditation is an application of mindfulness for a specific period of time. When we take on the practice of meditation, we focus. This focus could be an aspect of breathing, such as the sensation of our breath at the tip of the nostrils or visualizations techniques.
Hence, meditation is the application of mindfulness to a specific object for a specific period of time. And while we can be committed to our practice, the real benefits are in the moments we spend not meditating. It allows us to manage with the chaos of life with greater focus, along with the benefits of inner peace, spontaneity and equanimity.
When asking others what is meditation, varied answers will follow. Meditation can be an infinite different things, including prayer, chanting and stillness …
Yet mindfulness is more concise … paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, with no judgement. Mindfulness is available, always, in the present moment, the only moment we have …
Mindfulness meditation originates from an ancient Buddhist meditation technique …
A recent study showed that after an eight week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s fight or flight centre, the amygdala, appears to shrink.
This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making becomes thicker.
The “functional connectivity” between these regions – i.e. how often they are activated together – also changes. The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker, while the connections between areas associated with attention and concentration get stronger.
In other words, our more primal responses to stress seem to be superseded by more thoughtful ones.
Personally, my zen practice has helped to lessen the abusiveness of stimulation, the stress and pain associated with cancer. I have been learning how to refrain from engaging in though process that magnifies the pain. The process is simple, the practice is challenging. But it’s worth noting that the change in perception can be permanent … just don’t give up.
Mindfulness meditation takes commitment and devotion to your practice. And it is more than those moments of stillness … it is who you are in those other moments of life. Meditation allows you to detach from your thoughts, which manifest into feelings. As the observer, you can ask how and what rather than why.
Eventually, no matter what kind of thoughts come up, you have the opportunity to be critically honest with yourself. How true can you be with yourself is a great question to ask.
No matter how wild or bizarre your thoughts, mindful meditation guides you back to breath, back to the here and now. The gift within each meditation session is the journey of discovery to understand the basic truth of who we are.
“The masters say if you create an auspicious condition in your body and your environment then meditation and realization will automatically arise.”
- Sogyal Rinpoche