How can we be more mindful of our thoughts when we meditate? Perhaps one of our most common preconceptions about mindfulness meditation, is that somehow our heads will become an oasis of stillness, calm and tranquility, rather than the over active, preoccupied or even anxious things they often are. What we soon realise is that mindfulness practice doesn't stop us from thinking, but instead offers us a new way of relating to our thoughts.
"Neither from nor towards, at the still point, there the dance is." T.S. Eliot And there the art is... Neither grasping after it - it's gotta happen, gimme gimme inspiration. Chasing chasing. Nor expecting inspiration to come strike miraculously out of an empty sky. Instead we hold steady, hold still. We show up.
Intimacy is the offering of our life in trust to life... And how hard is this to do at times?! This idea that we could just surrender to the great glorious messy painful joyful impermanence of it all - it flies in the face of fear, of holding on, of controlling. And yet when we make the offering, when we let go in trust - when we soften our resistance even a little, then inevitably we suffer less and are more happy.
A listening meditation Ask yourself, quietly, gently, patiently... Am I listening? Drop these words into the silence. Wait for the responsive stillness of the body. Am I listening? Wait quietly. Without straining. Hang there in the space between the words. Suspend everything but this. Listening is always a waiting. Am I listening?
This is a recording of a Live Facebook Stream to the Art of Mindfulness community to celebrate the launch of my new Stop Look Breathe Create book. For the drawing activity you will need:
1) A pen or pencil and paper 2) Some things to draw which have interesting textures and shapes. E.G. Shells, seedpods, stones, a hairbrush, cheese grater, or house-plant. This is a one hour creative mindfulness class: 15 minute introductory meditation; 10 minute talk about mindful creativity and the Stop Look Breathe Create creative mindfulness practice; 20 minutes of guided mindful drawing activities; 10 minutes Q and A.
Creative minds are amazing, they’re always assessing, viewing, processing and problem solving. Creative and imaginative, they have an extraordinary capacity for lateral thinking too, for wild intuitive leaps that defy logic. But those same creative minds also have a tendency to go into overdrive. Fueled by creative inspiration, their neural networks and synaptic relays keep on firing even when they haven’t got a painting, poem or film to work on. Often the hard thing isn’t getting them going, but getting them to stop.
Our minds are natural story-makers, they’re constantly creating; not just fiction, poetry, Facebook posts and blogs, but also tales about our pasts and about our futures; fables about why we’re not good enough, smart enough, could have done better; myths about our relationships, our talent (or lack of it), our fortune or misfortune. We have world-class imaginations, fantasising and daydreaming we excel at. But here’s the important thing to remember… it’s ALL fiction! Nothing that goes on in our heads is real. It’s just thoughts. Mindfulness helps us to wake up to this fact and it’s a liberation. Why? Because then you get to choose the stories, you get to select which tape you play.
The aim of mindfulness is to wake up, to come into the present moment, to see the thoughts in the mind as concepts or stories or holograms rather than realities. In this sense, mindfulness is the opposite of the mind-set we associate with most of the time. Of course, when we are completely focused on our creating, in the flow, we are totally present, but this kind of presence is still quite different from the clear awake presence that allows us to just directly experience reality without thinking, imagining, or conceptualising – instead encountering life through simply being.