Mindfulness – Listening

Twists and turns in the journey

As I journey into this life with meditation and mindfulness, it becomes harder to put my experience into words.  As the mind becomes quiet, so does the stories, the self and the reasons why.

This is meditation doing its work, unseen, without glory. Creating space, immense and timeless.  A space where the pushing and pulling stops, where the influence of experience and knowledge has no power. Where the motives of the ego mind diminish.

The demands of the mind still come, the fears, the judgments, the attachments, but from this space created by the practice, they can be acknowledged, felt and allowed to move through freely, with ease.

I believe it is from this space we can see change and transformation.

The road is full of twists and turns.  I know less now than I did when I first started out and I am happy to rest with that.  The knowledge that got me here did just that, it got me to sit on the cushion, to search for the space. The practice turns this all upside down.

I came to this practice seeking change, security, happiness and peace.  What I was really seeking was satisfaction and reward, all from the ego mind.  All my efforts were based around this.  My ego mind had played a trick, a self projection, it showed me a little picture of what life would be like in the future, an illusion, totally unreal.

From this place of still mind, free from the known, no true or false, no should be or should not, the illusions fall away.  In this rawness emerges something new, peaceful and still.

Listening

I will often just go and stand in the back garden and listen. Just listening to the birds singing, trying to pick out the different calls (it’s usually Robin, he has such a lovely tune).  Then I listening to the far away sounds, the traffic on the road, the kids playing on the park, the dog barking, the plane passing by overhead.

Just listening can be a meditation in itself, opening up the space in the mind, away from the narrow channels of awareness we build. Just allowing it all in, not wanting it to go away or be different, just listening with curiosity.  There is a great beauty in listening this way, it is quite extraordinary.

Our ears are so often blocked up with projections, opinions and thoughts that we rarely listen at all.

The more we truly listen, the quieter it becomes, the more the space opens up.

Generous Heart

We must keep an open and generous heart in this practice.  There are times when I have closed my heart on this journey, becoming hard and stern with myself.  In that tight-fisted, closed down mode of thinking, the space closes in.  A day or week may go by, little things start to niggle you, you start to push away noise, fear may arise in the belly, be aware of it, this may happen.

Go gently, breathe, soften, sit back, sink in and root our feet to the floor.  Things may go awry, that’s okay, we can always come back, always.

Go to a quiet place, close your eyes and drop into your heart. Just listen, the heart knows what you need, no words are required.

Just listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting off the old habits

Dissolution of old habits

There have been times over the last few months that I have felt a sense of loss, as if a part of me has gone.  I believe this is down to the fact that I have been releasing some old habitual ways of thinking.

I’ve certainly become more aware of the negative emotions and the thought patterns that block up the flow of life.  Those emotions that at one time appeared solid and real, now are seen as just a thought.  The impermanent nature of them is revealed more than ever.  In one way this is good but the flip side is it causes me to feel somewhat disconnected. To witness the dissolution of something you thought was so real can be a little unsettling, even if those old habitual ways of thinking where negative.

This is the point we can get stuck and boomerang back to the old way of thinking.  The truth is, it isn’t enough to just disengage with these old habitual ways of thinking. We have to delve a little deeper, to connect with the openness and spaciousness that the release of these habits have created, being curious to what we find without reacting or responding.  It could be,like me, there is a sense of loss, well what does that loss feel like in the body, where is it felt, in the tummy, in the heart, just be curious without trying to push it way.

Delving deeper

By delving a little deeper this way, we can slowly start to connect again to our true self and a transformation can start to take place.  It takes courage and strength to stay with it.  This is the real practice, it is by far from easy and I hope that if anybody is at this point, they find comfort in these words and know they are not alone.  With strength, compassion and self-care we can go beyond just dropping those old habits and start on the road to transformation.

Simplicity and the three pills

In my practice and more so now in my life off the cushion, I like to keep things simple.  We so love to over complicate things and if something seems too simple we think it just won’t work. In our quest to find something we can’t get, we forget to see what we already have.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche sums it up beautifully in this recording.  Three precious pills….

A Stillness amidst all the activity, a silence lying underneath all the noise and a spaciousness which brings a feeling of warmth, compassion and calmness.  The three precious pills.


I hope you find these words helpful. Please feel free to comment below.  You can also contact me at info@themindshed.co.uk

You can also find me on the usual social media channels. It is always a challenge, I try to use social media mindfully, there really is so much noise out there, so you wont find me posting too much.

You will see on the home page my Instagram feed, I love nature and photography and so naturally this has become my preferred method of communication though social media.  Most of the images have quotes and or a short teaching, you can see my page by clicking the link below.

The Mind Shed Instagram



Thank you

Thanks again for reading.  If The Mind Shed is a little quiet from time to time, please bear with me.  I write as it is, from the heart, authentic. As such, at times it has to fall silent, to pause, and well, just time to connect with those three pills.  A bit of silence, stillness and spaciousness every now and again is so good for us all.

Be well.

From Roger.

Getting right to the heart of it

I have felt a definite shift in my mindfulness and meditation practice over the last few weeks.  I have felt the need to be silent, to be still, to step away from the noise and to drop into my heart, to hear what it has to say.

The heart seems to have a mysterious way of knowing just what is required, yet so often we don’t listen to it.  In the busyness of life, the heart gets drowned out by the noise of it all, opinions, judgements, I should do this, I shouldn’t do that. When we drop into the heart and truly listen,  intuition comes to the fore and common sense prevails.

I find it fascinating that science is coming round to the fact that the heart may have a brain of its own. Besides its primary function of keeping us alive, research has shown it appears to contain thousands of neurons and neurotransmitters.  I am not a doctor nor a scientist, I can only tell you, (from my heart) it has been one of the most transformational aspects of my practice so far.

“If mindfulness is the boat, compassion is the water it floats on”

Mindfulness without compassion is a bit like trying to push a boat on dry land. If mindfulness is the boat, compassion is the water it floats on (you know I like my nautical references).For this reason, compassion is the most important aspect of my practice and teaching. Compassion, kindness and awareness can come to us naturally if we truly listen to our hearts.

The heart of the practice

It takes time to connect with the heart again. For years, I didn’t listen, beating myself up, fears, judgements, all the noise took over. But slowly, without over thinking it, for ten minutes I would just sit, putting my attention to the heart area and breathing in deep as if breathing in light to the area, then a release of the breath out, sending the darkness out into the atmosphere, just repeating that for ten minutes, light in, dark out.  As with most of this sort of practice it is experiential, it cannot be intellectualised and in a way it can’t be written, it has to be felt and experienced with no expectation.  I don’t practice this at every meditation but at least once a week, I drop into the heart.

The heart knows what we truly need, it wants to be listened to.  Don’t take my word for it, drop into your heart every now and again and just listen. Put your hand on your heart and give yourself the love, the kindness and the compassion you need.

Be patient, watch the small shifts happen and allow things to unfold in their own good time, not forced but from the heart.

With Love from The Mind Shed.



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From the Heart

 


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A compassionate reminder

Live life today

For so many years I lived my life in the future.  Constantly projecting a picture of what life could be like, constantly looking for the next big thing to make me feel alive. Whilst I was busy projecting, the day-to-day life, the real life, just past in a blur.

It took the death of a relative to snap me out of that fantasy world of make-believe and come back to life as it is right now.  I vowed from that day on to live life now, not in the future.

“Death is not the greatest loss, the greatest loss is what dies inside us whilst we are still living”.

Those simple moments we lose. That empty cup you stare into, wondering who drank your coffee and then suddenly realising it was you. Those moments you get to the top of the stairs and wonder why you went up there. That destination you arrive at and then suddenly wonder how the hell you got there.  The truth is we have all done it.  Small moments that may seem insignificant but what if we spent a whole life like that, what if you only had a few months left to live and you look back on your whole life like you looked into that empty mug. Is that it? was that my life? it must have been, nobody else has lived it for me.

Ask yourself the question “what simple thing can I do right now, to nourish my life”

I used to think, Oh I will enjoy life when I have this or that, or life will be better when I have completed this task and the next big think comes along. Life will be happier after the next holiday and so on and so on, always one day sometime, but never today. It is so easy to fall into this trap, I catch myself still doing it now and again.

Something amazing started to happen when I said to myself “what simple thing can I do right now in this moment to nourish my life and make a difference”.  It could be as simple as being aware of breathing, or just listening to the birds outside, having a mindful cup of tea or coffee, small moments of awareness that ground me to a life of reality and authenticity.

I started to not need the vacation to feel happy, or the next big thing to come along to make me feel alive.   I dropped the need to be so busy and in turn became more productive.  This different mode of thinking, although sometimes difficult to maintain, has and is having, a profound effect.

Last year, I took the leap to reduce my day job working hours, from five days to four. Something that was always going to happen in the future, started happening there and then, that day. Just a small step made possible by just living now, not in the future.  It has meant less money coming in but there is no contest when I weigh it up against having more time to live life in this moment, to follow my heart and passion, to write this blog and to hopefully inspire others to see it is possible.

Cherish those beautiful small moments, it may be walking barefoot on grass, walking the dog, sipping a cup of tea, listening to a friend or loved one or counting your breaths up to ten. Whatever it is, it is what reminds us we are alive now, right in this moment, not in the future.

Pause, take your time, be bold, be courageous but more importantly, live your life today, not tomorrow, not next month or next year, but today.

Be happy, have a great week.

From Roger

www.themindshed.co.uk

Knocking down the walls of fear

“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack, in everything, that’s how the light gets in”

Leonard Cohen

For many years I built a metaphorical prison for myself. Brick by brick, wall by wall, until I was completely surrounded.

The walls I built were made of fear and shame.  Although it was all in my mind, it felt very, very real, trapped in a prison of my own making.

But what was I afraid and ashamed of?

The truth is, I was afraid to expose who I really was.  Sensitive, awkward, anxious, quiet and well and truly in the closet.

I was so afraid that somebody might see the real me, I built a prison to hide in and I started to live a lie.  In doing so, I cut myself off from life bit by bit.

If we believe it, fear has the ability to stop us from taking any action.  It will tell us that it is just far to painful to show up as ourselves in the world, much better to stay in the familiar prison.

I want to tell you now, there are cracks in the walls we build, big enough to let the light in and to show us the way out.  True happiness, true contentment and peace will never be found in the prison of fear.

knock down the walls or just open the door

It took me until my late twenties and early thirties to accept who I am and to be comfortable in my own skin.  It is work in progress,  I can find myself back in the prison sometimes but once you have seen the way out, you don’t forget it.

Mindfulness – Coming out of auto pilot mode

One of the things mindfulness is good at, is taking us out of auto pilot mode. In autopilot mode we are unlikely to see the patterns of behaviour that put us in the metaphorical prison.

With a heightened awareness that mindfulness brings, I can see when I am starting to build the walls again, when anxiety and fear start to take over.

A daily practice of meditation and everyday mindfulness provides the awareness.  So when I find myself back in the so-called prison, I don’t have to knock the walls down, the prison door stays wide open, it never gets locked, all I have to do is make the choice to walk through it.

Kindness and compassion

In my post “From the heart” I wrote how compassion and kindness has helped me over the last few years.

There was a time I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, now I look and smile as if I am greeting my best friend.

At least once a week, I will carry out this simple compassion meditation and drop these words right into my heart.  I start with myself and then wish the same for a close friend or loved one. I don’t search for a special feeling or emotion but more often than not a feeling of peace and contentment will arise during the meditation.

May I be well, May I be happy, May I be free from suffering and harm.

May you be well, may you be happy, may you be free from suffering and harm.

Being kind and compassionate to ourselves and others can bring great inner strength and inner peace.   It helped me to see, that I can just be me, I can have a soft heart but also a strong back, I can be kind but doesn’t mean I am a walk over. I can be sensitive and caring because that just who I am. I can drop the macho bullshit, it’s just not me.  A big learning curve, but one that allowed me to escape that prison I built once and for all.

Goodbye prison

Mindfulness and meditation have changed my life.

To be clear though, It hasn’t changed me. When I first started with it, I so badly wanted to change, to be somebody else.  It is what brought me to the practise in the first place, but it had other plans.

It is returning me back home, back to my natural state, my true self, just simply me.

I hope this helps anybody out there that feels stuck in a prison of fear, shame, guilt or whatever other things we build our walls with.

Take the time to stop, to notice, notice the cracks in the walls you have built around you. Be curious about the light that shines through them and go after it.

There is plenty of time, know that it is okay. It is okay to just be yourself.

With Best wishes, I hope you have a great week, from Roger.