There are only two ways to be free of pain and suffering. Death and coma. And that is not what mindfulness is about. Mindfulness is not about a silent and peaceful mind. Loss of a loved one, your job, a relationship or your health is difficult. There will be sadness, grief, anger and pain. Mindfulness will not change that. But what it can do is to allow you to hold your pain without fighting and resistance. One holds the suffering with wisdom and compassion.
Learning how to breathe properly is one of the most effective tools you have for stress relief. How do you do it?
Our breath is under automatic and conscious control. Bring your awareness to your breath.
Breathe in a conscious slow, deep and smooth manner through your nose.
Belly rather than chest breathing with the inhalation and exhalation supports relaxation.
Exhalation is the parasympathetic or relaxation response while inhalation is the sympathetic or fight or flight response. Breathe out by at least 1 second longer than what you breathe in. Ultimately aim for slow breathing with an in-breath for a count of 4 and an out-breath for a count of 6. Put them all together and you have the capacity to put out the fire of acute stress or lower the simmer of chronic anxiety.
There is the pain of having to get someone to come and pick me up and go and get another key made. However, I don’t stop there. I add to this pain with my mind saying: “I am so stupid and careless! How could I have lost my keys? This is terrible!”
The Buddha said: “PAIN IS EXPECTED SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL.” There is the initial event that causes us pain. However, we then like to amplify what has happened. We make up stories about our experiences and our self-worth. Value is not inherent to what we experience, but from what we interpret it to be.
Suffering does not come from the event but what we superimpose on it.
Try this now: Breathe in and open. As you reach the top of the in-breath, feel into your natural friendliness. As you breathe out, let go of any tension or stress. Feel the moment of peace. Mindfulness meditation leads to a peace and ease that is you can’t disturb, no matter what life brings. DR. LESLIE ELLESTAD