When I first learnt Mindfulness it was a powerful tool. It literally helped me escape depression. I could now “see” the sadness, darkness, despair, futility, isolation, patheticness and more of myself as actually something separate to myself. It was not who I am.
I had to practise Mindfulness to exercise that side of me who is not my thoughts or feelings. I practised and practised until I could more easily identify with that other side to me, that side that can observe, notice, become aware of my thoughts and feelings and to a large extent not become them and hence not become that depressed person. I call it my Wise Self.
Then I discovered contemplation or silent prayer. Contemplation is the name given in Christianity, other religions or spiritual teachings give it other names. Meditation is one that readily comes to mind. Buddha taught it. Jesus did too. It’s interesting to note Jesus never taught external, formalised prayer. When his disciples pleaded for prayer he gave them the “Our Father” prayer. But he actually promoted silent reflection as many of the mystics have done. The Romans when they dominated Christianity in 313AD onwards really gave JC a bad wrap – but that’s another story.
Contemplation is sitting in silence for lengthy periods of time. Twenty minutes is good to aim for initially. It’s good to start with strategies such as focusing on your breathing, doing a body scan, listening to 5 things you can hear or 5 things you can see. When thoughts disturb you notice what they were and let them go by likes cars passing by on the street or like leaves on a stream. The first 10 minutes or more depending on what is going on in your life will probably just be trying to let those thoughts go by. But stick with it. The more you practise the better you become.
Then, go deeper. Let yourself go to the silence. You may be lucky and get one minutes worth out of 20 minutes. But is that 1 minute powerful! You know you’ve experienced it because when you get back, it’s like someone just gave you the secret to life for a brief moment. It’s like liquid gold. It’s like the most amazing treasure. It’s pretty powerful and with it comes great clarity. It takes a while to get there. I’ve been practising Mindfulness for 10 years and Contemplation for 12 months and I get a couple of minutes of this liquid gold. It’s very precious. I find all my answers there. In the nothingness. The silence. The stillness. I guess it defies logic to the rational mind. Who cares? It’s where clarity lies. So keep practising Mindfulness – it’s a life long journey.
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