The practice of meditation is the oldest relaxation technique known to human kind. Today, Mindfulness Meditation is widely used as a means to increase focus of attention in the present moment thus allowing our innate calmness and clarity of mind to come forth. This is a great aid in responding skillfully to the stressors in our lives. Historically, Mindfulness Meditation is based upon Four Foundations:
Mindfulness of the Body: An awareness of posture, breathing and other sensations that we experience as we “wear” our bodies from day-to-day. There will be instruction in mindfulness of the body in sitting, standing and walking meditation. There will be special instructions for those who have difficulty in standing and walking. We will also explore how to work with physical discomfort and pain when it arises.
Mindfulness of Feelings: Through out the day we come into contact with pleasant, unpleasant and neutral situations that give rise to corresponding sensations in our minds and bodies. How can we skillfully navigate the broad range of circumstances and feelings that arise for us without clinging to the pleasant ones and pushing away what is unpleasant in our experience? This is where we find true equanimity and balance in our lives.
Mindfulness of Mind: Much of our stress can be released when we are mindful of thoughts and emotions that arise in our minds. Fear is the basis for the anxiety, worry, tension, anger and other forms of negativity that we experience. The compulsively wanting mind also creates suffering. The practice of mindfulness and a deep intention to non-harm and compassion liberates us from suffering. We are mindful of the habitual response to fear and negativity, such as body contraction and judgmental stories like, “I shouldn’t be angry; I shouldn’t feel fear.” There is compassion for the human feeling this emotion and at the same time a resting in spacious awareness. Gradually that spaciousness grows so profound that we don’t so often get caught in the objects of everyday mind that used to bother us.
Mindfulness of Mind Objects: Through what we see, hear, taste, smell, feel and think, we know we are alive! Here we bring awareness to the whole sensory realm as it is experienced through the body and mind from moment-to-moment. Cultivating presence, we begin to discern the difference between mindfulness and the object we are mindful of, such as, a body sensation or thought. As we rest ever deeper in mindfulness itself many of the knots in our lives begin to untangle and unneeded stress is released.
Class Dates: Not offered this fall
Questions? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 919-966-8586.
John received Theravada Buddhist ordination and training for a period of eight years while living as a monk in the 1970’s in Thailand and India. He has been teaching meditation and leading retreats around the country since 1980. John is the guiding teacher of the New Hope Sangha, which is a nondenominational community located in Durham, North Carolina that respects the wisdom of various spiritual traditions. He is on the faculty of Duke University where he teaches courses on Yoga and Meditation and Stress Management.