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My Guided Meditations:
This meditation is designed to cultivate “equanimity”, the ability to experience the truth of life’s ups and downs with wisdom, staying open with awareness, like a mountain. If you are going through challenging changes at this time in your life, this can be helpful. I invite you to find the still and majestic “center” within through this practice.
Along with the cultivation of wisdom, mindfulness practice requires the ongoing cultivation of compassion and kindness. Life is hard, so we need to be kind. Being fully present is too painful without the transformative quality of compassion. As far as self-compassion/love, only we can do this for ourselves, finally letting go of patterns that are “looking for love in all the wrong places” externally. The intention is to open the heart, not to create any particular state or experience. Let the process unfold as you plant the seeds for more and more true kindness, for yourself and others.
This practice involves opening to the full “triangle of awareness”: physical sensations in the body, emotions of the heart, and mental activity in the mind. It is considered a more intermediate practice, as it requires some degree of concentration and skill, in awareness. The intention here is to allow the moment itself to become the object of our expanded awareness, noticing whatever is most distinct in the body/heart/mind, moment to moment. Through this practice, we can simply learn to rest in the actual flow of our life, as it really is, glimpsing the truth of impermanence.
This is a foundational practice in the MBSR program, created by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It cultivates “mindfulness of the body”, in the most concrete and direct way. The intention is to develop and strengthen the mind/body connection, essential to mindfulness. While this practice seems simple, it can be challenging. As Westerners, we often live in states of “disconnect” from our bodies, leaving us feeling sick, stressed, anxious or depressed. Restoring this connection can be a process. But, it is well worth the effort. Current research indicates that establishing mind/body awareness restores health and well-being.
This lying yoga practice is the series from MBSR program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. LIke other “mindfulness of the body” practices, this involves the felt experience of the body. In this case, the object of awareness is the moving body, as one experiences each yoga pose or movement. Some people connect to the body more, when there is movement. The intention is to experience the yoga in a mindful way, letting go of striving or achievement.
This is a classic practice from the first foundation of mindfulness, that of the body. The invitation is to experience the breath, as it actually is/feels, in the body, moment to moment. There is no “goal” to remain with the breath perfectly. Instead, the intention is to notice when the mind has wandered away from the breath (which it will!), to give yourself credit for noticing (rather than viewing this as a failure), and to simply and gently “let go”, returning to the breath. This practice strengthens concentration, and literally “re-wires” the brain every time you bring the awareness back to the reality of the breath, again and again.
This practice was created specifically for the Insight LA Basics of Mindfulness Class. Towards the end of the class, with this practice, we allow the experience of thinking, or “mental activity”, to become the object of awareness. This can take some concentration, so it is not considered a “first step”. As we open to the mind, mental activity of all kinds is a given. The intention is not to have a mind empty of all thought. On the contrary, we open to all mental activity, but watching it all simply come and go, in kind awareness, without becoming “lost” in any particular thought stream/pattern arising, moment to moment. This can be a very powerful practice in gaining wisdom regarding habitual mental patterns.
This practice was also created specifically for the Insight LA Basics of Mindfulness Class. With this practice, we allow the flow of emotion/feeling in the “emotional body” to become the object of awareness. In every moment of our lives, we are feeling something emotionally. Bringing awareness to the felt landscape of the heart can be incredibly important as we move into a connected experience of more wholeness with ourselves, others and our lives. As a result of cultural, familial or life experience conditioning, we can shut down, repress or disassociate emotionally, leading to disorders of all kinds. Emotion is energy moving through the body. Through this practice, we can regain connection to the full spectrum of emotions, letting them move through us like “weather patterns”, always coming and going.