there is a still point within us all, that remains unaffected by the flotsam and jetsam of life; find yours...


18th December 20

Mmmm, everyone is talking about this these days; to the degree that it seems to be politically incorrect not to either know what it is, or be aspiring to master it.   

The development of Mindfulness as a contemporary practice can be attributed to Jon Kabat-Zinn who as well as being a distinguished scientist was a student of several Buddhist teachers including Thích Nhất Hạnh.  He created a “Stress Reduction Relaxation Programme” that he later remodelled into “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR), removing the Buddhist connections to ground it in science;  arguably making it more accessible to the lay person.  People often feel that meditation is attached to a religious belief system or is otherwise unavailable to them; some lofty ideal only attainable by those accomplished enough to conquer it whereas with the right approach, it can be accessible to everyone.  If Mindfulness practice can be sustained in the Houses of Parliament, it can be sustained by anybody, anywhere… 

Notwithstanding the reduction of this practice to science; Mindfulness is intrinsic to the Buddhist tradition.  The roots of Yoga, Jainism and Buddhism are intertwined, and the extent to which each influences the other cannot be completely known since textural, archaeological and other evidence is incomplete.  A great deal of academic research and writing has been dedicated to exploration of these issues.  Ascetic and renunciate lifestyles were common to all three traditions and the meditative practices of each therefore share common foundational elements that cannot be ignored. 

Thus, we can legitimately consider Mindfulness in relation to Yoga, and not just to Buddhism or the MBSR.  In the context of yoga, Mindfulness is that ability to be in the moment and focused on the precise thing we are engaged with; being in relationship with and maximising each and every moment of experience.  Sometimes that might be a negative, and so we can also take comfort from knowing that it’s just a moment, or maybe several, but life is dynamic and everything changes.  All things pass; both positive and negative.  If we can learn to adapt to the ever changing experiences of our own lives we will not feel stuck and attached to harmful attitudes, thoughts or behaviour patterns.  There are so many styles of yoga these days it can be difficult to know what will suit or work for you but āsana (physical) practice, of any style, can incorporate that degree of mindful one pointed awareness that constitutes the mindful practice of Jon K-Z.  One does not need to go for hard core meditation in order to experience peace of mind. 

There is absolutely no need to be intimidated by the idea of “serious” meditation, epitomised by images of those seated in contortionist postures.  Anyone can meditate, we just need to be with the right teacher and the right technique.  In the eight limbed approach of the Patañjali Yogaśāstra (the well known treatise on yoga) three whole limbs are devoted to those meditational practices that lead us to the ultimate experience of unity, harmony and complete integration.  It’s three limbs, not one, because meditation is a staged process; it evolves as we practice and as we engage with it.  We don’t need to get to the end on day one and Patañjali introduces the idea of approaching a practice with the commitment to maintaining it (abhyāsa) without excessive attachment to initial outcomes (vairagya).  Patience, and being kind to ourselves will produce the most benefits over time and Mindfulness, meditative or relaxation practice is something that can be enjoyable and rewarding at any stage of the journey with a sympathetic and experienced teacher.  Whether you are new to yoga, or a seasoned practitioner, the gift and the fruits of meditation are easily within reach.  Join one of my mindful hatha yoga classes, Tranquility or meditation evenings, to begin finding your own point of stillness...

Tranquility evenings
Meditation made simple
Mindful hatha yoga