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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Mindfulness: The Science of Waking Up: Use this simple, three-step procedure to maintain the mind's primal state of restful awareness, from Steve Price

Dec 01, 2014 10:48AM ● By Steve Price

Each morning, as our eyes open, there is a moment—even if only a sliver of a second—when the mind is calm, clear and available. There is a glimpse of awareness, albeit fleeing, of the coolness of the sheets, the chirping of birds or the delicious stretching of the body from the inside-out.

Then, often instantly, a barrage of thoughts yanks us from this experience we call the present moment. The mind goes from its natural state of rest to one of restlessness. All of its life force energy, which had been returning and gathering during sleep, begins once again to hemorrhage outward. Before long, mental and physical fatigue ensues, accompanied by a dullness of mind; a kind of sleepwalking, whereby we become blind to life's blessings and opportunities. The mind's intrinsic light becomes veiled by worries, complaints, doubts and judgments. We go dark, and unconsciousness takes over.

Here is a simple, three-step procedure to maintain the mind's primal state of restful awareness and remain truly awake: calm, clear and present to life and all of its possibilities.

Relax. Trying to stop thoughts is counterproductive, and ends up creating more thoughts, judgment and stress. Simply give the mind permission to rest on anything in our present awareness that brings us peace. It could be our breath, the sensation of relaxing our shoulders, a tree or a distant sound. Start with a dedicated practice of just a few minutes a day, and throughout the day whenever it occurs to us; for example, while waiting at a red light. Remember to let go of all tension or effort.

Enjoy. The instant the mind settles, focus on how we feel in our physical body. Enjoy the peace, the stillness and the calmness. Remember this feeling, and make a cellular memory of it. Don't think or do anything about it; just feel. Shift from thinking and doing to feeling and being; stay there as long as possible, even if only for a second, and enjoy. Research shows that learning is more effective when the process is enjoyable, and this essential learning, the training of our mind, is no different.

Repeat. Consistency is critical. Old patterns of unconscious thinking and behavior may have been reinforced for decades, so enlightenment is not likely to happen overnight. But then again, you never know. Let go of any expectations or attachments to results. Be committed, but at the same time, don't take it too seriously. Mindfulness is a science, so just approach it as an interesting experiment. Whatever we do, we must not give up. Relax and enjoy.

While practicing awakening through mindfulness, be mindful of the benefits. We should be aware of any shifts in any aspects of our life: health, relationships, work or finances. Simply noticing these changes, obvious or subtle, will inspire us to continue and deepen our practice. There is no limit to how conscious we can be, whether detecting a trace of chicory in our tea or a melodious lilt in a loved one's voice that we never heard before.

Mindfulness can be defined as the mind filled with radiance; the light of consciousness. When the mind is returned to its natural state—clear, bright and peaceful—it becomes our best friend, continually waking up to its own luminous nature and all that life has in store for us.

Steve Price directs and teaches at A Mindfulness Life Center, in Scottsdale. For more information, visit AMindfulnessLifeCenter.com.

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