The Need to be Mindful of the Mind!

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People of Christen belief are less likely to die 20 days before Christmas than after Christmas. People who believe in something higher themselves are more likely to live longer, generally healthier and more resilient than people who are non-believers. People who meditate are more to feel a sense of wellbeing and are generally happier.

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These statements are rooted in science and from them one may conclude that these people are somehow living and seeing the world in a different way that confers them some benefits.

What’s special about these situations and these people that causes them to experience these benefits?

Research seems to confirm the age-old suspicion that these individuals’ brains are firing differently! That is to say their mind is processing the world differently.  In a sense they are creating their own reality and their own happiness.

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The Buddha realized the world is suffused with suffering and always advocated cultivating the mind to free one of suffering. Science is now discovering that cultivating the mind is indeed very important determinant of our health and wellbeing.

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It is easy to say cultivate your mind but how does one do that? There are many ways, but none surpass the practice of training your attention, which really means meditating. The practice of meditation is a technique used for thousands of years to improve concentration and focus, which improves the control of  our awareness.

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When we are more aware, it allows us to “see and map out” our own mind.  This then allows us to see different aspects of our self. These different aspects of ourselves have different drives, they are all driven to fulfill our different needs and if these needs are in conflict with each other, then this will result in uncomfortable feeling of either chaos or rigidity within us, resulting in ill-health, relationship conflicts and feeling of depression.

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Sciences is now finding out that Practices like prayer, meditation, tai chi, qigong, yoga all help to cultivate our minds in a beneficial way. Even simple exercise is shown to help depression and improve neuroplasticity in the brain.

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So if you are doing any of these practices please don’t let them lapse and if you were thinking about starting, I wholeheartedly support your effort because the benefits are obvious.

Resources

The Mindful Brian by Daniel Siegel

http://flickrhivemind.net/

My summer experience 2013

When I tell you what I have been up to in the last six months I hope you will forgive me for not posting anything for a while.

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In early June I took few weeks off to bond with my brothers. There are four of us and I am in the middle, so I could boss my younger bothers and my older brother still bossed me. However, it was all in jest and building a stronger meaningful connection. We do this “bonding trip” every few years and usually no other family members are invited. This makes it very special and after each trip I feel as though I received a precious gift from my brothers.

This trip was suggested by my younger bother. It began with my brothers flying to Edmonton, two from England and one from Victoria. We drove together from Edmonton to all the to Tofino , BC but  with few stops on the way;  at Mt Robson just outside the jasper park boundary for the night , Kelowna for one week , Victoria for few nights and them Tofino for the rest of the time.  The holiday magic began as soon as we got into my vehicle and started to drive; every moment, every conversation, every meal, every hike, every quite time, and every winery we visited and every break by roadside was special.

We remembered our years of joy, success, failure and pain. With this remembering we build a narrative of ourselves that helps to make sense of where we are now, what gifts were brought along with our success and failure, what was worth the effort, what we still needs to learn and develop. We could do this with feeling of safety because we know we love each other unconditionally. This sharing of ourselves without fear or shame, brought out our emotional vitality in our relationship. This emotional vitality resonated between us during the whole two weeks we were together and allowed us to be free, maintain our autonomy, share our intimacies, extend ourselves into each other and reflect the past. Our connection between us was strengthened; our understanding of each other and ourselves was deepened. The whole experience was profound and left beautiful memories within each of us that will serve us well during our lonely moments and on our deathbeds. We will be able to say YES life was worth the effort.

After the trip I got busy with building a retreat facility where workshops could be conducted.

I believe this idea of a retreat centre was born out of my deep desire to connect to something larger than myself. I had been searching for it a while but not getting anywhere. I wasn’t sure (and I am still not certain) if the retreat centre was the right path but series of events led me to build it.  I like to think there was a invisible force guiding me, with which I would like to connect and this building is a bridge to that invisible, benevolent, larger than myself force. Furthermore this building would act as a bridge for other fellow travelers who are seeking.

While I was building the retreat my friend told me that the first nations refer to this whole area as the “medicine hills”. That intrigued me but it still didn’t make any sense why I was building it at the time. The building process continued almost by itself and it was mysterious in a way because things got done; when I needed  “a push” to get something done it come, when help was needed it come, when inspiration was needed it come too. We had our first retreat on Septembers 14, 2013 and it was only day or so before that we felt enough work was completed on the building to hold the retreat.

The first workshop was on drum making organized by my friends and colleagues Laurence and Karen. The instructor was Zinour and his wife Gayle; twenty-five people participated and the experience was magical. As we made our drums something very special happened. We started to interact and exchange energy that we gathered from the land, building and also with the energy we come with. I never seen such happy harmonious group working independently on their drums and yet connected.

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After we finished our drums Zinour and Gayle treated us to a wonderful performance. Zinour used to have international dance company in his younger days and performed all over the world.  They give us a short performance of throat singing and dancing with the drum. There body movements, the drumming, the company and the surrounding all came together for everyone in their own way to experience something very special. For me it was heightened experience as though I was tapping into energy source much larger then myself. This source fed me for days afterwards because I felt happy and energized. I received several emails expressing the same experience.

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One of the participants had done some shamanic work. She told me how profound the energy was as soon as she came to the workshop. She said she couldn’t figure it out at first but when she learned she was in the medicine hill it all made sense to her. She later related to me that she had a dream the night before in which elk had come to her. When she learned we were using elk hide to make the drums again she was quite moved.

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We ended the workshop with a ceremony thanking the spirits and the elk that provided the hide for the drums. When Gayle finished the blessing ceremony she said she was called upon to leave the eagle feather and the sweet grass for me. I was very moved by this because I took it as though the spirits felt it was worthwhile project.

Our next workshop is on mindfulness on November 2, 2013.  May the good forces be with you always.

Hope to write bit more frequently now so keep checking in!

Resources:

Drum Making Workshop Photos By Laurie Brooks.

Three Photos at the top by http://flickrhivemind.net

Interchange Blog

Interchange Blog

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