Well before mindfulness, meditation, and the happiness movement became a national fad, I began meditating several years ago, and it has now become a part of my daily routine. Sitting in a quiet place for 20 minutes and practicing mindfulness has provided me with a technique to establish inner rest and balance and provided me with a path towards Mind Fitness. In the same way that running, walking, swimming and other physical activity enables Physical Fitness and enhances the body’s ability to achieve goals that involve strength, endurance, and longevity, Mind Fitness enables one to achieve behavior and mental goals.
I’ve been pursuing four primary goals with my mindfulness practice: 1) an enhanced ability to experience more joy and less stress 2) an enhanced sensitivity to those whom I love and a focus on treating them with loving kindness 3) a focus on noticing, being aware of, and appreciating the beauty around me, whether it be in nature, people, or the arts; and 4) an attempt to enlarge my circle of empathy to include people whom in the past I might have disdained due to physical appearance or other characteristics.
At this point, if you are in any way similar to where I had been prior to 2014, you may be feeling the urge to shrug, giggle, or just delete, but if you have any interest in meditation, read on.
The mind is a wonderful creation, providing Homo sapiens with language, thought, emotion, creativity, dreams, and all that makes us human. It also, however, is a non-stop intruder into our consciousness, randomly interrupting whatever we’re engaged in with ideas, thoughts, judgments, stories, regrets, and worries. How often are we distracted from the beauty around us by ‘to do lists’, worries about money or our family, or regrets about something we’ve done or have failed to do? Meditation enables one to interrupt this turbulent stream and allows one to focus on the now, this moment which recently was in the future and shortly will be in the past. By meditating, you become more capable of managing the mind’s interference with your conscious state. This enables you to be more present in the moment. That presence is what allows you to appreciate the beauty in the world and to treat your loved ones with kindness instead of the reflex ‘race to the basement’ with its anger, sarcasm, impatience, and scorn that can surface when frustration assails the distracted mind.
Some of you have expressed interest in my meditation practice and asked for suggested resources, so here is a list of the books that I’ve read in the last two years and that I’ve found useful:
*Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzburg
*True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart by Tara Brach
*Wherever you Go There You Are: Jon Kabat-Zinn
*The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Solutions, Ronald Siegel
*Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh
*Positivity by Barbara Frederickson
*10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress, Without Losing my Edge and Found Self-Help that Actually Works by Dan Harris
*Looking at Mindfulness by Christophe Andre
*Mindfulness, Meditation and Mind Fitness by Joel and Michelle Levey
You can find reviews of each of these books in the Book Journal. Read a book, listen to a podcast at www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations, go to a drop in meditation session in your neighborhood and try it. You have nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain.