What do we practice?

by Christiane Baud.

Mindfulness meditation is about learning—or remembering — how to be still.

  • During mindfulness meditation classes, we learn different ways to be still. Any good teacher wants to help each person find the way(s) that will work for them.
  • Different ways work for different people. You probably already know ways that help you be still– other than mindfulness meditation– maybe you practice yoga, breath awareness, recite a favorite word or phrase, walk mindfully, do visualizations, or engage in prayer.
  • Mindfulness meditation offers special types of practices to still the body, the emotions, and the mind. There are practices to
    • train our attention
    • train our ability to feel and recognize emotions,
    • train our ability to notice and observe our thoughts and though patterns,
    • help bring inner resources into our lives.

Why do we do this practice?

  • With practice, we get to know better all aspects of who we are — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  • As the body and mind become calmer and clearer, we begin to notice all the ways in which we operate habitually, how much of our life is lived on automatic pilot — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
    • It is often said that the time we spend in formal sitting meditation is like going to “the gym for the mind”. That’s because we engage in a training of the mind, that has the effect of transforming the mind and, as scientists have now documented, transforming the brain itself.
  • As we see ourselves and the world around us more clearly, with less confusion, we also begin to understand better the obstacles that the mind  can create at time.

Is there more to it than just learning to be still?

  • Yes, in addition to stilling the mind and body, we also learn or remember how to open our heart to life as it is.
  • By practicing regularly and keeping an open heart, we transform the ways we see ourselves, others, and the world around us, and we begin to relate in new ways.

Is this religious, or will it conflict with my religion?

  • The practices and philosophy presented here are not religious practices: they are not Christian practices, or Buddhist practices, or Hindu practices.
  • The practices as they are taught here are called secular. They can be used by anyone who wants to use them.
  • It is also understood that each one of us will bring our own religious beliefs and inclinations and we will weave our own beliefs and practices into our meditation practice, because each one of us is one person and cannot separate the various domains of our lives.

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