What is Mindfulness Meditation? and Why am I Doing It...?
Updated: Nov 6, 2021
As a yoga student and then teacher, I became familiar with the practice as a moving meditation, along with breathing exercises, and often a guided meditation or visualization at the beginning or end of class. I was never very curious to go deeper and train as a meditator, let alone to "commit to sit" on a cushion every day.
In the last few years, however, I witnessed several friends, at different ages & stages of life, transformed by training and practice in mindfulness meditation. I watched them become calmer, deeper, more centered and grounded, more mature and steady versions of themselves. One friend loaned me the books that guide her practice, including Turning the Mind Into an Ally (which is featured on the Resources page of this website). There, I was able to read and understand enough to begin a daily practice of my own, something that I found sustained and helped me immensely through a very difficult time.
I am about to complete 100 hours of training in this mindful-awareness meditation--a training that has involved five teachers, several leaders, and a small group of practitioners who have become very dear to me, along with continued reading of Turning, and other spiritual texts.
Perhaps it is also helpful to add that I practice meditation and study Buddhist teaching in the context of and alongside my daily and weekly Christian practices, and my practice of yoga. As the Dalai Lama has said,
"Do not try to use what you learn from Buddhism to become a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever you already are."
So why do I do it? Why sit every morning and try to breathe and notice my breath, my surroundings, the churnings of my mind and heart, and return to the breath? I do it to better know myself, to pay attention to reality, to deepen my experience of peace, & of my Higher Power. I don't come to my cushion to run away from myself, but to stop running, to stop distracting and numbing myself with thoughts and entertainments and activities. No other spiritual practice is so effective for me in show me where I am stuck or struggling. Why follow that mindfulness practice with prayer and scripture reading? Then I can be more present, releasing my stress and anxieties to my Higher Power, setting my intention for the day in better alignment with the divine.
Of course, everyone is different, every journey is distinct. I encourage you to explore different spiritual practices, perhaps from traditions other than your own, and see what is most helpful for you in drawing you closer to your own truth, your own heart, your experience of the divine.