Mindfulness Meditation Practice

Most Oklahomans today have heard of meditation, but few have an accurate concept of what meditation really is. Perhaps we have seen movies or read books where a character uses meditation to “clear the mind” or to “empty the mind of all thoughts.”. For those of us who have tried to sit down and “clear the mind”, we immediately see the futility of such an endeavor. This is because the conscious mind will always have a focus, from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. By definition, consciousness is “consciousness of something”. Subject and object arise together and in that way are inseparable. One of the major aspects of mindfulness meditation is developing the ability to consciously place your mind on an object (typically the breath) and maintain that focus, or as they say “focus on the one thing, not the 10,000 things”.

Another aspect of mindfulness practice is that we begin to “observe the mind”. The unobserved mind is always making judgments and forming opinions, always labeling things and painting a picture of reality. This in itself is not a problem, but for most people, thinking has gotten completely out of hand and the typical person is completely possessed by the mind, unable to experience life directly. We are caught up in thoughts and guided by perceptions that are quite often incorrect. Because of this tendency to let our minds dominate our lives, we suffer in all sorts of ways. For most people, the vast majority of thinking is purely compulsive and serves no true purpose.

``Its not that thinking is bad, its very useful in moderation; a good servant but a bad master.``

Alan Watts

Mindfulness Meditation is about learning to dwell in reality, in the present moment, and experience existence directly through the five senses without the extra “chatter” of the mind. We learn to observe the activity of the mind and the speed at which it colors our reality. The five physical senses exist only in real-time; when you hear something, you hear it now; when you feel something, you feel it now; when you breath, you are breathing now.

``There is only ever one breath, anything else is either memory or anticipation.``

Thich Nhat Hanh

But the mind is not bound in real-time like the senses are. The mind can both remember and anticipate, and thus it is constantly bouncing between memories of the past (most often inaccurate and biased towards our own perspective) and anticipation of the future (if its a pleasant future we imagine, we feel good; an unpleasant future, we feel bad). But in reality we are neither in the past or in the future.

``The past is gone and the future is not yet here.``

Ancient saying

All we really have is the present moment. So Mindfulness Meditation is about learning to fully experience the present moment, otherwise known as life. Through practice, we can learn to wake up from the trance of perpetual compulsive thinking and experience things directly, as they truly are. In this way we are able to greatly minimize the suffering we cause for ourselves and for others, and we can develop the mind into a very powerful ally in our quest for health and happiness.

—October 2013

Matthew Sheets Dipl. OM, C.Ac.

The article above barely scratches the surface of what Mindfulness Meditation is and why someone might choose to practice. There are literally hundreds of volumes discussing the what and why of Mindfulness, written by many wonderful authors. It is important to have a theoretical basis behind the practice, but don’t feel overwhelmed. The actual practice of Mindfulness Meditation is rather basic, with a few specific guidelines to help beginners. The basic practice can be learned quickly with a few short sessions of instruction, and from there a person can continue developing their meditation practice on their own.

Matthew Sheets Dipl. OM has been practicing Meditation for over 10 years and has instructed various forms of meditation for the last 6 years. If you are interested in learning to meditate, small group and private lessons are available. Please contact us at 918-497-0377 to sign up or with any questions you may have.

``Each one of you is perfect as you are, and you all could use a little bit of improvement.``

Suzuki Roshi