Saturday, April 7, 2018

How to be Mindfull

Aleyna and Violet posing at Pismo Beach Sunset
Deep. Philosophical. Easy. 

Hard to do. 

You can read books, articles, listen to audios, watch videos and be taught or mentored. It can be complicated. Or you can make it as simple as breathing in and out.

No breath, no life. 

Through years of bad habits, our breathing has diminished.  Poor breathing is responsible for poor health. 

I remembered this story of a young martial artist asking his master, "Sifu?  What can I do to live a long life?"  

The master answered, "Breathe, grasshopper, breathe!"

Taught to me years ago, I practice deep breathing and mindful meditation, focusing on how grateful I am to be alive with family and friends I love and care for, to experience new beginnings and adventures that life provides.

Being mindful is a personal attempt to know thyself.

Each morning, I start my mindful day with Tai Chi and Qigong. It would be nice if everyone could do the same.

There are may ways to reach a mindful state.  The easiest way is through breathing techniques.

First step

As a beginner, I recommend sitting comfortably on a chair; if possible in a position where your feet are flat on the floor and back straight up as possible. Don't exaggerate any positions. Just be natural and comfortable. What you will learn is that rules diminish your abilities to be mindful.  So if you wish, you can do it lying down.  Standing (refer to Zhan Zhuang). In crossed legged Lotus Position.. Walking. Cycling.  Swimming.  Running.  As a beginner, sit on a comfortable chair.  

Where to practice?

Ideally, somewhere outside where there are a lot of plants and trees.  A nice backyard or neighborhood park is nice.  Fresh air and nature help but not necessary. Anywhere indoors and if possible without distractions like television, stereo, phones, kids and pets. 

Kind of soothing, huh?  It helps me get into a zen state.  Use it if it helps.

The long-term objective is to experience and non-judgmental awareness of life as it happens on an ongoing basis, by eliminating the continuous barrage of thoughts that attack you every second of your waking moment.

By breathing correctly and making a conscious effort, you allow yourself the opportunity to focus on yourself, eliminating any stress, pain and discomfort associated with daily living. 

How to breathe

Once settled and comfortable you will be breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. First place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and allow it to make contact with the back end of your two front teeth.

Inhale slowly through your nose for three (3) slow counts inflating your lower abdomen or belly.

Expel through your mouth for four (4) slow counts as if blowing into a pinwheel soft enough to engage it to spin.

Inhale for three counts.  Exhale for four counts.

Close your eyes and experience the moment. Imagine savoring the taste of one of your favorite meals.  Do not allow external noise or internal turmoil enter your space.  Should you be distracted, focus on your lower abdomen. Feel the sensation of it moving outward as you slowly breathe in. Hear the breath fill your lungs and when it passes your lips.  If possible, think about nothing except for you breathing in and out.

Your goal is to focus on the moment using your breathing to control the event instead of the events controlling you.

The recommended times for practice is right after you wake up and before you fall asleep. If you have the time, attempt a session during the day.

There.  That’s it.

All that writing and reading and then you think, is that it?

Easy. Simple. But hard to do.

It's because in our present lives immediate gratification occurs after spending time, money and energy reaching it. Some misguided individuals believe that the more you dedicate materially the more you gain when the opposite is true.

If you’re wondering why this is effective?  We’ve already heard about the mind and body connection. What we don’t know or understand is that thought and sensory signals to the brain are interconnected and closely linked.  In order for us to break this link, we have to try hard and make an effort to overextend a sensory or thought process.  By doing so, the mind and body balance is tilted and we end up with physical or mental problems.

I am not an expert, nor do I claim to be. I am, however, and old man who for the past 40 plus years dedicated himself to both the external and internal, yin and yang of martial arts. What I've experienced in those years, the personal journey of Discovery, is unique to me and without any doubt can say I've reached a face and deep understanding of mindfulness. I'm going to share with you a simple way of achieving this state. Some of you will reach it faster than others. Some, regretfully, will not reach it at all.

Like I indicated in the first sentence of this blog, mindfulness is personal. No one can achieve it for you but you.

Athletes place themselves in levels of concentration dedicated to the moment for the sole purpose of a competitive outcome; focused, concentrated, and mindful. The difference between you and them is that your personal (mindful) goal is to appreciate an existence, feel satisfied, fulfilled and a sense of quiet enlightenment you share only with yourself.  There are no first, second or third place trophies or medals for mindfulness.

Let me emphasize, the benefit and value are for you and you alone, internal conversations that create a personal story as it occurs and revolves naturally and normally without prejudice or opinion. Life happens for your distinct pleasure and appreciation. You, as an individual, gauges and measures this value. The awareness of your experience will tell you if it's right or wrong.

Being mindful, your only investment is to take a moment for yourself and to experience nonjudgmental awareness that is yours anyway.

Now it's up to you to determine if inner peace is worth the effort and risk.