Tomorrow, January 19th, LBBC is hosting a free community meeting “Mindfulness Meditation for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer” at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel from 6:00PM to 8:00 PM.
This entry was written by Michael J. Formica, MS MA EdM, Editor and Project Coordinator for LBBC who, as a mental health and education professional with more than 25 years of experience, also blogs regularly at Psychology Today. Michael has been a devoted practitioner and teacher of Yoga for almost 20 years, and a practitioner and teacher of traditional Eastern martial and medicinal arts for more than 35 years. He has taught and practiced several different systems of meditation.
You are not a human doing, you are a human being. That’s what makes meditation so accessible, because it is a practice that, rather than asking you to do something, asks you to not-do something. It is simply being with yourself in the moment, and paying attention.
Mindfulness is the word that we use to describe a particular kind of paying attention, and meditation is a kind of mindfulness specifically focused on the process of thought. The intention of mindfulness meditation is to pay attention to the thoughts running through your head without getting hung up on the individual thoughts themselves. This allows us to release those thoughts that very often have us going around in circles. The Zen saying that describes this is, “when you chop wood, chop wood. When you carry water, carry water.”, or, more to the point, “just be” (as in human being), without being invested.
So, what’s the point of meditating? Freedom. When we sit (or stand or lie down or walk or run – there are many different forms and styles of meditation), our intention is to release ourselves from our attachment to what the wisdom teachings call the “ten thousand things.” Now, when those wisdom teachings were written, the “ten thousand things” were referring to manifest reality, but a better way for us to think of it is all the stuff of your life – your laundry, your relationships, your checkbook, your boss, your kids, your dog, your taxes…all the things that rent space in your head, occupy your mind, and keep you stuck there.
What about the more practical side of things? Well, research has shown that meditation reduces anxiety, elevates mood, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, increases the ability to manage pain, improves concentration, increases emotional resiliency and, in general, lowers wear and tear on the body and mind by reducing overall stress. That’s a pretty good return for very little investment – or, more properly, uninvestment.
There is no right way or wrong way to go about establishing a meditation practice, just as there is no right or wrong way to meditate. More than anything, it’s about being still and being present. Making time to meditate can sometimes be a challenge, but the benefits are obvious and, as one of my teachers is fond of saying, “five minutes every day is better than two hours once a week.” A little bit goes a long way.
It’s not too late to register for LBBC’s next free networking meeting. To register for Mindfulness Meditation for Women Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer, click here or call 610 645 4567 today.