Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mindfulness in Practice (for me, anyway)

So I've had an irregular mindfulness meditation practice for about a year now.  I say irregular because I don't sit down on anything resembling a regular schedule.  What I do instead is take moment here and there and go into breath focus or body scanning.  However, what I do much more often is sit back and analyze the kinds of thoughts going through my brain and what effect they have on me.  It's almost like taking a step back outside of myself and trying to watch without engaging.  This started as a way to deal with distracting thoughts while trying to focus on my breath or body, but I've found it to be useful whether I am doing that kind of formal practice or not.

I've found it particularly useful when it comes to dealing with attachment and the "grasping" one often reads about in Buddhist contexts.  For example, I have various people I'm attracted to, some of which I have a better shot with than others.  Back in the day, I would get really obsessive when this happened, and I tended to be very over-eager and needy seeming, which would inevitably be counter-productive, making myself less attractive.  I still get those impulses, but now with the somewhat detached outside perspective, I have much more control over myself.  I can sit there and experience the desire and even anxiety without letting the emotions force me into action.  I sit with the feelings, experiencing them fully, to some extent more fully than when I let them take over, and I get a better understanding of the drives that fuel them.  Experiencing the emotions and the physical changes that take place in the body when experiencing them is a fascinating process.

On the practical side, taking time to do this makes me a lot less nervous when I actually see the people I'm attracted to, which then leads to a better time had for all, since my tics and whatnot aren't getting in the way.

With all I hear about mindfulness and the importance of regular practice, I'd love to hear more about this kind of approach to it, where it's focused on directly improving one's development.  Sometimes I hear about it as a side effect of one's practice, but to me, this more conscious engagement with one's behavior and thinking is the real point.  Just my observations, hopefully they are useful to some reading this.

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