This week I attended the funeral of a youngish man who, although had not really treated his body as a temple, was still too young to have shuffled off his mortal coil. Funerals generally provide moments for reflection and the readings reminded us all that we should be putting aside the pettiness of life and taking the opportunity to resolve to be the best that we can be. I looked around the chapel and saw contemplative faces nodding with agreement and understanding, as though each of us was indeed making a new resolution.
Predictably though, after the service we all shuffled out into the garden and within no time at all it was obvious that the contemplative resolves were slowly melting away like snow in the rain.
There’s no judgement to this; just an observation that it is a human condition. Our conscious minds tell us that we would like to be different, express ourselves differently or behave differently but our patterns of behaviour have other ideas! This is because those patterns do not exist in our conscious attention. It is the unconscious mind that actually drives all of those things and it takes a good deal of attention, dedication and resolve if we are determined to change the things that make us less than our best.
The patterns that drive how we represent ourselves in the world are an auto-programme that is running beneath the surface of conscious attention or intention. If we are to be able to change them, we must first become aware of them.
This puts me in mind of an excellent five minute meditation exercise that I came across recently – one that I would like to share with you. (This will shortly be available as an audio disc/download, so watch this space).
Most people find that as they do this exercise, thoughts will start wandering to memories, tasks that are waiting, problems that need solving – or just the regular run of the mill chit-chat that happens in the mind. When you become aware that you are having that thought just gently bring your attention back to where you were before you drifted off.
Sit upright in a comfortable chair. Allow your shoulders and arms to release surface tension and relax. Let the elbows and forearms feel heavy. Take 3 deeper breaths and as you let the last breath go, close your eyes.
Bring your attention to your feet. There’s no need to have thoughts about them just notice sensations like the textures of socks or shoes, or warmth or coolness, tensions or comfort. Notice differences between the feelings of each foot.
After a few breaths move the attention to your calves and focus in the same way. Continue the process travelling up through your body, lingering on each part for just a few breaths. Notice the way your bottom feels as you sit in the chair. Try to get a sense of the internal organs of your body and how they may be feeling. Notice the parts of your back that can feel the chair. Let yourself be aware of any place that you might be holding tension. Continue all the way to the top of your skull, paying attention to lips, tongue, ears and eyes. Finally, pay attention to your whole body while you breathe.
At any point during this process that you become aware of a thought, ask yourself “who is deciding that I should think this thought?” Then ask yourself “If I could choose my thought at this time, would I be choosing this one?
There is a great benefit to us all in learning how to be aware of the value of our thoughts and how they impact on our daily lives. You can learn how to break out of the self-hypnosis that runs your daily patterns, using Coaching, Hypnotherapy, Meditation or any other activity that brings you into your awareness.
If you would like help to develop helpful strategies for change, and would like support through the process, call me to discuss how I can help you.