Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Practice of Mindfulness

I kind of fell into meditation as a Grief Recovery Tool, and rather late in the game at that. Certainly, it was not suggested to me in any of the typical grief books that I read, nor do I recall hearing about meditation at my monthly grief support meetings. I attended my free Vipassana course more as a personal development thing, not specifically for grief recovery. Since then, and especially after receiving the amazing benefits of meditating, I have been wondering how far into bereavement one should be before learning some simple meditation techniques. I'm thinking more and more that, had I attended Vipassana earlier, my grief recovery timeframe would have been significantly shortened.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I've been reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It explains very clearly the benefits of being completely open to fully experiencing grief, especially within a meditation framework [pp61-2]:

Meditation is bringing the mind back home, and this is first achieved through the practice of mindfulness.

Once an old woman came to Buddha and asked him how to meditate. He told her to remain aware of every movement of her hands as she drew the water from the well, knowing that if she did, she would soon find herself in that state of alert and spacious calm that is meditation.

The practice of mindfulness, of bringing the scattered mind home, and so of bringing the different aspects of our being into focus, is called "Peacefully Remaining" or "Calm Abiding." "Peacefully Remaining" accomplishes three things. First, all the fragmented aspects of ourselves, which have been at war, settle and dissolve and become friends. In that settling we begin to understand ourselves more, and sometimes even have glimpses of the radiance of our fundamental nature.

Second, the practice of mindfulness defuses our negativity, aggression, and turbulent emotions, which may have been gathering power over many lifetimes. Rather than suppressing emotions or indulging in them, here it is important to view them, and your thoughts, and whatever arises with an acceptance and generosity that are as open and spacious as possible. Tibetan masters say that this wise generosity has the flavor of boundless space, so warm and cozy that you feel enveloped and protected by it, as if by a blanket of sunlight.

Gradually, as you remain open and mindful, and use one of the techniques that I will explain later to focus your mind more and more, your negativity will slowly be defused; you begin to feel well in your being, or as the French say, ĂȘtre bien dans sa peau (well in your own skin). From this comes release and a profound ease. I think of this practice as the most effective form of therapy and self-healing.

Third, this practice unveils and reveals your essential Good Heart, because it dissolves and removes the unkindness or the harm in you. Only when we have removed the harm in ourselves do we become truly useful to others. Through the practice, then, by slowly removing the unkindness and harm from ourselves, we allow our true Good Heart, the fundamental goodness and kindness that are our real nature, to shine out and become the warm climate in which our true being flowers.

You will see now why I call meditation the true practice of peace, the true practice of nonaggression and nonviolence, and the real and greatest disarmament.

Because a major goal of mine early on in my bereavement was to be at peace with Deb's death, you can see how I have been attracted to the mindfulness aspect of meditation. I wish for you the same deep peace that I have experienced. I believe that meditation should be investigated for grief recovery before the shock phase has fully worn off.


Unknown said...


You've got a very wonderful blog. A lot of people will not fully grasp what mind power can do to one's achievement.

Unknown said...


You have an incredibly nice blog. To turn into a effective person the simple factor should be to have positive thinking.

Anonymous said...

If you're in an okay mood, should you meditate anyway?