In class this week we continue to explore multiple types of meditation. We began with the breath awareness meditation that expanded into a sound awareness. After the meditation we participated in the council process, a practice of mindful speaking and mindful listening. The question was what has been the biggest challenge so far with the meditation? The biggest challenge for me has been the realization that the way of life that I am working towards does not match what I am currently doing. I described this as dissonance. It has also been difficult finding the time to practice, especially with the two little ones.
Then we had a discussion around the unpleasant events journal connecting the way that we viewed these situations around the concept of expectations. As we notice the thoughts around expectation- the “shoulds”- and see how the expectations play into the unpleasantness (sense of stress). Understanding these thoughts and how they influence emotions are another step in reducing stress.
Another definition of stress- “stress is an automatic, specific response to a situation.” The thing about stress is that our brain does not know the difference between real and imagined threat. When we have thoughts of stress (expectations, disappointments, etc) there is a physiological cascade of responses in the body. Some of these response are tension, poor sleep, GI upset, more pain, high blood pressure and lower immune system. Many individuals find themselves at an almost constant “low level state of arousal”, which not only influences physical responses but also creates issues in our relationships and a disconnect between the head and heart.
Meditation helps by allowing us to recognize these stories, perceptions and thoughts that play out in our heads. As one slows down and notices the thoughts and sensations than there is the opportunity to recognize it simply for what it is; a thought. Then like the formal practice when one notices a thought and then lets it go, one can practice simply noting a thought and moving the thought along instead of ruminating (or hanging on to a worry). By noticing the habit of thinking one can than work on dismantling it. The time carved out to practice the formal meditation strengthens the ability to use the techniques throughout the day.
mindful meditation- breath and sound awareness- continuing the meditation from previous classes
Council Process- This was a practice in mindful speaking and listening. Each person had the opportunity to answer the question while holding an item representing a talking stick. The idea is to listen to each response with curiosity and kindness. Do not rehearse what you are going to say, but instead speak spontaneously, “from the heart”.
Loving-kindness meditation (http://www.jackkornfield.com/2011/02/meditation-on-lovingkindness/)
There are many variations on this meditation. This is one example.
body scan and yoga alternate daily
loving-kindness and sitting meditation alternate daily
stressful communication calendar
informal-notice stress reactions as they happen, not trying to change, just noticing thoughts, feelings
Reference and further information
The Way of Council, Jack Zimmerman& Virginia Coyle
Yoga of Awareness (www.yogaofawareness.com) Kimberley Carson