Imagine a new born baby. All soft, warm & squidgy, freshly released into a strange new world. A world full of strange new sensations – new sounds, new feelings on the skin, new smells, new tastes & new sights. But this is not the only new things – there would be new thoughts as well.
As the infant grows, the Central Nervous System (the brain & spinal cord) becomes more & more refined, processing the signals from all the sensory inputs in their body, which then goes on to hone the various physical actions (such as movement & balance). The mind develops likewise, learning to recall & inform the child about various positive or negative events from past experiences. (“Urrgh broccoli. I don’t like broccoli.”).
This recall & inform aspect of the mind has evolved in humans as a brilliant protective mechanism, allowing previous experiences to influence our decision making process. Although Meditation Part 1 was a bit silly, in that very moment of trying to meditate, by bringing a previous funny event to mind, it went on to upwardly spiral a series of funny ‘pop-up’ thoughts that ultimately made me laugh (& more importantly, lighten my mood).
But what if I went in to that meditation class feeling a bit low – say I was just a bit niggled about my body image*. If anyone who has had chubby issues will know, your mind will keep it hanging pretty much at the forefront of your thoughts. And even if you think of something else, your mind will not only remind you that you are a bloater*, but it will also start to spiral downwards, ‘popping-up’ other times that you were maybe teased for being Jabba’s older brother. And not only that, as you wobble down this fun-packed, rumination helter-skelter, your own mind will remind you (through recall) exactly how to feel as well (Stressed, tense & generally heavy ).
*Interchangeable with anything negative
So, it is actually quite amazing to consider how something that are not real (our thoughts), can affect & influence not only our moods & emotions, but also the way that our body works (our physiology). But this is where meditation (& mindfulness) can be awesome.
If you imagine that you (your thoughtful mind bit) are a passenger in a vehicle (your physical body). In everyday life you spend you time winging-along at full-throttle, observing (sensing) everything that rushes past your windscreen. Now imagine, taking the vehicle out of gear & just letting the engine slowly return to an idle/tick-over – no movement, no rushing about – just allowing yourself to become aware of what is going on, inside & out.
This idling is the best way to describe meditation.
Next: Meditation Part 3 – How to Meditate