We can slow down the busy mind so we can get in touch with our heart. Our mind is busy chatting, thinking always. Instead, we can gently open to our awareness in the present. Regardless of the situation, we do not need to be constantly preoccupied with the details, the stories, the frustrations, the expectations. We can reduce the stress. The practices of mindfulness and self-compassion can bring back the beauty of the moment, savoring simply. Fortunately, there is an alternative to our constant mind chatter.
Mindful meditation can reconnect us with our own being once the mental traffic slows down. Awareness and thinking are different: observing, noticing… sensing… without analyzing, assuming, expecting, regretting or anticipating. We can see, hear, taste, smell, touch, experience directly, as it is, without the filter of our inner chatter that is living a life where we can simply be.
Self-compassion brings a new flavor to our way of thinking which is more kind and understanding. We discover that our thinking, dreaming, feeling, listening and communicating can have clearer intention; gaining greater satisfaction with our own self, in our relationships, in our work and with life in general.
Mindfulness, meditation and self-compassion are simple, anybody can do it. By bringing awareness to our “thinking” we gradually change our patterns of reacting but instead choosing to respond. We can stand back from our inner chatter… we can listen to it without being bound by it. Mindfulness can help us to let go of our busy mind and be in our heart more so we can connect and attend to ourselves in loving awareness.
The following meditation, called “affectionate breathing’ can help us to quieten the mind so we open our heart. First, we bring our mind into the here and now, by observing our breath in a way that is easy for us. Then placing our hands over our heart or using another gesture to remind our self that in this moment we wish to bring some kindness. Becoming gently more aware of the in-breath, we remind our self of how nourishing the in-breath is, bringing to our body the oxygen that we need to live. Then focusing on the out-breath we can connect with the feeling of letting go, allowing our self to release the preoccupations of our busy mind for the day… worries about work, health or relationships. As we anchor our attention to our breath, we continue to observe the thoughts in the wandering mind, being affected by them less and less. The mind begins to slow down, to have moments of stillness, so we can begin to open our heart. Our awareness can begin to slowly turn to our heart; soft, free, present and calm. There are times in our lives when this is more difficult because we may be more overwhelmed with the difficulties. “It’s not our fault”. We have a tricky mind, living a life that we did not entirely choose! We can use loving kindness phrases to alleviate the pain. We can sit with our pain to offer ourselves the extra compassion that we need.
In meditation, we attend to our mind chatter in a different way to free our heart. Meditation allows us to connect with our body which is forever present, to open our heart to what is. We let go of our worries, desires, judgments, likes and dislikes by relating to it differently. We do not have to be fused to it. We can stand back, observe the content of our mind as if someone else was thinking it. We do not have to be defined by it. We know that we are more than our thoughts, feelings and experiences. Gradually, we can sit and attend to the pain inside us with kindness and compassion. We can find this part of us that is greater, kinder, wiser. By letting go of the chatter, we can open the door to something else, another part of us, that has always been there, that is present, that is forever wise and compassionate, that understand but also knows and care.
We feel we heal, we release so we can then receive. We can then open our heart to gratitude. We begin to appreciate a greater sense of self, restoring inner peace and inner joy. With our expanding awareness, we sense in the silence the goodness, the forgiveness, savouring peace.
Every meditation will be different. In every meditation, we discover other inner treasures of our heart; trust, faith, hope, creativity, wholeness, love. There are no right and wrong or fixed rules of how each meditation experiences “should” be. Sometimes there is more to let go, sometimes less, the aim is to reduce the chatter of our mind, so we can connect more deeply with our awareness of being. We can then attend to our heart, open our heart to the beauty, the goodness that is within us and others. The more regular we are with our daily practice, the easier we will be able to attend to our heart and give ourselves what we need with kindness and compassion.
Today we can hold on to so much. Our heart is full of grievances, desires, unpleasant memories. We carry our problems as well as the problems of others around us that we care for. We are overfull of mental activities with smart phones, IPads and computers. The busy-ness of our mind is at the cost of losing touch with what is in our heart. But worse, it complicates our relationships. We are less present for one another. We are busy thinking, doing things, taking less time to talk to one another. The practice of meditation is to reduce the inner chatter so we can come to an awareness of oneness. Calmness, connection, compassion and joy are the fruit of the meditation which then spread to our relationships.