Last month I wrote about the health benefits of meditation. During the week, I was in the company of a lovely lady whom I have worked with for years and have had the pleasure of travelling with her on three occasions as part of a service tour to Cambodia. Clare is one of the calmest, happiest people I know. She asked me to listen to the talk that she was presenting to the senior school at an assembly. Her talk tied in so beautifully with what I wrote about last month, and she was happy to share it with me. Here it is, enjoy!
As this assembly closes, I thought we would finish with a little exercise to have a mind shift before we go to period 5. It is still connected to what we have heard today, but instead of focusing on anxiety, depression and mental health, I thought we could talk about dealing with stress in general.
We all get stressed. This is partly because of our fast-paced lives. A little bit of stress is okay – but what happens when it gets out of hand; when we feel that our minds won’t be quiet?
There is something we can do – and that is meditate – and we can do it anywhere, anytime! Even if It’s just for a couple of seconds while sitting in class, walking to a lesson, queuing in the cafe, being in the chapel.
You know many people have a misunderstanding about meditation – they think it is something like ‘think of nothing – concentrate on emptying the mind’!!!! Well to do that you probably need a few years sitting crossed legged in a monastery chanting OM…….
We can’t block thoughts and emotions – in fact we need our thoughts and emotions for all sorts of things.
But we can quieten our thoughts, and we can be aware of our emotions so that we can choose how we are going to respond to them.
The sheer volume of thoughts at about 50,000 a day is often called the Monkey Mind!
And it goes something like this – ‘jabba jabba jabba’. Thoughts can be upsetting, unsettling and cause restlessness and confusion. But the good news is that we can train our monkey mind to be quiet- shhh! We can make friends with it, without spending a bucket load on Bananas!
How do we do this you might be asking? We do this by giving it a job.
This is where meditation kicks in. You are giving your monkey mind a job by focussing on ……..
Well it is, and it isn’t.
- It is easy because we have our breath with us all the time day and night and its free,
- It isn’t easy because we forget it’s there. It’s so much of a part of us and because we are not used to believing that we can alter our breathing to affect our thoughts and bodies to calm down.
In addition, we must practice our breathing for this purpose and most of the time we say to ourselves (the monkey mind again), ’AINT GOT NOT TIME FOR THAT’.
Okay so sitting comfortably in your seat – back straight, feet firmly planted on the ground – we are going to say to our monkey mind – “Hello watch my breath”
Hold your hand up in front of your face and using the index finger of the opposite hand, breathe in as you trace your thumb to the tip. Hold your breath, exhale as you trace your thumb to the base. Repeat for all 5 fingers.
Please see You Tube video for demonstration- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrefygyATxw
- A lot of thoughts will come in the background but as long as you don’t forget your breath, the monkey mind will be calm for a moment.
- Finally place your two hands together and do one final deep breath.
Until next month!
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