AWARENESS AND MINDFULNESS TO HEAL
To heal the body, the mind must know what is happening to the body. This knowledge is wisdom of the mind, which originates from awareness and mindfulness.
Awareness is deep concentration of the mind to know what is happening to the body. This is essential to healing of the body. Nobody -- not even your doctor -- knows your body better than yourself, but you have to be aware of it.
Breathing is your awareness of what is happening to your body. It is critically important to your overall health. Breathing gives life. Without food and water, you may still survive for a while, but without your breath, you die within minutes.
Breathing has to do with the lungs, which serve two main functions: to get life-giving oxygen from the air into the body, and to remove toxic carbon dioxide from the body. So, do not compromise your lung functions with nicotine or any drug.
Your breathing patterns are critical to your health. That is, how you breathe may positively or negatively affect your body organs and hormones. For example, taking short, shallow breaths, you are in fact telling your brain that a threat exists, which then stimulates a stress response in your body, and thus creating destructive thinking patterns in your brain. Conversely, taking long and deep breaths, you are sending positive signals to your brain for positive thinking patterns. When you own your breath, you have calm and peace. Breathing is just a simple strategy for instant stress-relief.
Learn how to breathe right: diaphragm breathing is natural breathing; it is the complete breath.
Consciously change your breathing patterns. Use your diaphragm to breathe (the diaphragm muscle separating your chest from your abdomen). Place one hand on your breastbone, feeling that it is raised, and put the other hand above your waist, feeling the diaphragm muscle moving up and down. Deep breathing with your diaphragm gives you complete breath. This is how you do diaphragm breathing:
Begin your slow exhalation through your nose.
Contract your abdomen to empty your lungs.
Begin your slow inhalation and simultaneously make your belly bulge out.
Continuing your slow inhalation, now, slightly contract your abdomen and simultaneously lift your chest and hold.
Continue your slow inhalation, and slowly raise your shoulders. This allows the air to enter fully into your lungs to attain the complete breath.
Retain your breath and slightly raise your shoulders for a count of 5.
Very slowly exhale the air. Your upper chest deflates first, and then your abdomen relaxes in.
Repeat the process.
Learn to slowly prolong your breath, especially your exhalation. Relax your chest and diaphragm muscle, so that you can extend your exhalation, making your breathing out longer and complete. To prolong your exhalation, count “one-and-two-and-three” as you breathe in and breathe out. Make sure that they become balanced. Once you have mastered that, then try to make your breathing out a little longer than your breathing in.
Practice diaphragm breathing until it becomes second nature to you. Diaphragm breathing is both relaxing and stress-relieving.
Mindfulness is acute mental awareness, which is deep concentration of the body and the mind for their inter-connection: the body is created to support the mind. To sharpen your mind power, you must enhance the mindfulness of your body first. If you feel that your body, mind, and soul are not connected, most probably there is lack of body awareness by the mind in the first place. Therefore, mindfulness begins with awareness of the body first.
Most of us do not pay much attention to the body -- except when we experience physical pain -- let alone paying attention to the mind. But mental attention is important to the wisdom in stress-free living. The mind and the body are inter-connected. Your mental attention is essentially your body consciousness, or your attention to the physical conditions and the needs of your body in relation to how your mind thinks. Understanding this intricate relationship may help you relax both your body and your mind.
Are you always paying conscious attention to your body at all times?
The way you normally eat speaks volumes of the degree or intensity of your body awareness. It is not the food you eat, but how you are eating your food that shows your body awareness. While eating, if you are reading your newspaper, watching your TV, working on your computer, or checking your cell phone, you are not paying any attention to your body, which at that very present moment is supposed to be eating and not doing multi-tasking.
Train your mind to pay more attention to how your body reacts when you are eating, such as chewing your food thoroughly, slowing down your eating process by tasting each morsel of the food in your mouth. Always give the full presence of your mind to your meal. Again, how often you look at something without seeing it at all because your mind is not paying its full attention to what you are looking at. When your mind is not paying its full attention, your body becomes incapacitated; only when your body becomes fully conscious, then your mental capacity will then become enhanced and sharpened. Body awareness is simply paying full attention to what your body is doing at that present moment. In other words, be more conscious of what your body is doing when you are eating, walking, or doing anything routine. In any life situation, even while doing your dishes, you can use your total body awareness to switch off your thinking mind, and give it a meaningful break for your stress-relief.
The bottom line: mindfulness is the deep understanding of your body: how and why you are sick. The reason why a sage is not ill is that he sees illness as illness, and not as something else.
With awareness and mindfulness, you may then begin to see the ultimate truths in anything and everything -- including who you really are, what is happening to and around you, as well as how and why you may have your disease symptoms.
Awareness is knowing who you really are, instead of who you wish you were. This is the only path to humility, which gives you an empty mindset with reverse thinking to rethink what is already in your pre-conditioned mind:
“Can we embrace both good fortunes and misfortunes in life?
Can we breathe as easily as innocent babies?
Can we see the world created as it is without judgment?
Can we accept both the desirable and the undesirable?
Can we express compassion to all without being boastful?
Can we watch the comings and goings of things without being perturbed?
Saying “yes” to all of the above is spiritual wisdom from the Creator,
who watches the comings and goings in the world He created.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 10)
According to the TAO, awareness is:
“watchful, like a man crossing a winter stream;
alert, like a man aware of danger;
courteous, like a visiting guest;
yielding, like ice about to melt;
simple, like a piece of uncarved wood;
hollow, like a cave;
opaque, like muddy water.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15)
With awareness and mindfulness, you may attain the true wisdom of knowing your true self:
“Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing ourselves is true wisdom.
Overcoming others is strength.
Overcoming ourselves is true power.
Understanding that we have everything we need,
we count our blessings.
Identifying with our own true nature,
we hold fast to what endures.”
(Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 33)
Copyright© by Stephen Lau