In MIDL Mindfulness Training 11/52 you bring your softening skills developed earlier into your mindfulness of breathing. As your breath draws in and your body expands outwards you 'open'; you 'open' to whatever you are experiencing now, regardless of what it is. As your breath goes out and your body deflates you than borrow the deflation of your body to soften / relax into your relationship to what you are experiencing now. In breath 'open', out-breath 'soften'. This is the skill of mindful non-participation that deconditions habitual patterns. Submit Your Question
Your Question: Another challenging one. I do feel a bit light headed at the end though, but perhaps I just need to keep practicing relaxing into the breathing pattern. Do you have any suggestions?
Stephen Procter: Are you controlling your breathing or allowing it to happen naturally?
During this training there should be no control of your breathing. Just be aware of the complete breath as it comes in and out autonomously - by itself, free from control. Allowing yourself to relax with the out-breath. If you are controlling your breathing than there may be a tendency for you to over-breath and this will cause light-headedness.
Allowing your breathing to happen naturally also has another benefit. The mind and the breathing reflect each other. As the mind calms, the breathing also calms. As the breathing calms the mind also calms. Control over the breathing stops the development of calmness in both the breathing and in the mind. This is in one of the reasons why the ability to be with each breath, free from control, is so important.
Your Question: Really great but there is a little bird or something in the background that is a bit distracting. Maybe you could remove it to help me concentrate.
Stephen Procter: This little bird is your friend.
What can the sound of a little bird in the background of a guided meditation teach you about the nature of your heart and mind? What does being distracted actually mean?
Distraction only exists when we are fighting against reality. If we make the movement of attention towards the 'distraction' our meditation object then it is no longer distraction; it is an object of meditation. We could edit or re-record the guided meditation so that the bird no longer disturbs anyone, but we would be doing this out of aversion and would only enforce habitual running away from anything that we find unpleasant.
Or we could leave the bird sound in the recording and observe our minds relationship to it. Investigating how it is drawn towards the sound, how it becomes attached to peaceful feeling and agitated when something draws its away. We could then use the calming of the breath taught in this training as a vehicle to calm our mind and heart by Softening our relationship to the sound - Softening the "I don't like" "I don't want".
In this way our MIDL Mindfulness practice will deepen and our relationship to things within our daily life that we do not want to experience would also Soften. In this way peace would move from seated meditation into everything else and there would be no distraction, only the experience of life, now.
Your Question: I like the idea of opening and softening in this meditation. Could you please explain more what this means?
Stephen Procter: Your first step in this meditation is to align your awareness with the expansion and deflation of your body as it responds to breathing. This has been developed in the previous MIDL Mindfulness Trainings. Once awareness is fully aligned with the expansion and contraction of your body you can then bring in the MIDL Softening skills that you cultivated earlier and apply them in two ways:
1. Every time the breath comes in, you allow yourself to 'open' with the expansion. You 'open' yourself to whatever you are experiencing 'now'; regardless of what it is. It may be sounds, sensations, pleasant or unpleasant feelings, thoughts, memories, judgements, likes, dislikes and emotions – you open to any experience that arises at the Six Sense Doors. You 'open' your heart to it. You just sit down, align your awareness with the breath within your body, and on the opening in-breath, the expanding in-breath; you experience what there is to experience. You allow everything to just be there.
This 'opening' is a process of opening your ‘heart’. You allow yourself to experience whatever is present to you at this time; fully, without judgement. If judgement is present within your mind you also allow that to be there; you experience it fully.
2. As the breath goes out and your body contracts inwards, you 'Soften'. Relaxing along the length of the out-breath; along the length of the deflation. The breath comes in, you 'open', you 'open' to all experience, 'now'. The breath goes out you 'Soften', relaxing deeply - like following the length of a children’s slide. You simply 'Soften', relaxing deeply into your relationship to what you are experiencing 'now'.
The breath comes in, expanding, 'open'.
The breath goes out, deeply 'Soften', relaxing into your experience.
Your Question: Please help me understand what you mean by "your heart's centre". Every time you used this expression, I started ruminating about what this could mean! I don't think this was what I was supposed to do!
Stephen Procter: When you are really sad or feel hurt, that ache in your heart is your hearts centre. The hearts centre is that vulnerable place, the place that aches when we take something personally, the place that feels more like ‘me’. It is that place that we desperately seek approval of others, that we desperately try to protect form pain and that we distract ourselves in life so that we do not have to feel the ache.
This is the hearts centre in which we soften into, it is the one place that the mind does not want to go. Softening into the hearts centre is teaching the mind to live in the hearts centre instead of living within the head.