This section is dedicated to questions on Mindfulness Meditation from many students all over the world. If you have a question that you would like to ask you can ask it here: Contact Stephenthankyou and take care,Stephen Procter
QUESTION from Laura: I felt my observing self as a tiny dot in my colossal inside body. This feels almost like a trance. I remember going there in my youth (untill the age of aprox. six y). But with the difference that now I can steer where I go, with my attention.
My body feels quite inert, only my attention is mobile. Do other people feel this too? Is this the right goal to try to achieve? Or is this 'just' lucid dreaming, the way you don't want to meditate?? Would like an answer, because I am a novice here. Thanks in advance
ANSWER: This is not a trance but a clarifying of awareness. Our awareness is normally very dispersed, jumping between the six sense doors: Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling as touch and the mind door – thinking, liking / disliking, judging. When dispersed it is very much like a clear pond with wind blowing on the surface, you can not see down to the bottom.
When you are doing this meditation practice you are meditating on the sense door of ‘touch’, the function of Mindfulness is to continuously remember “I am aware of this”, awareness remembering itself, this is where the effort is placed in a gentle, balanced way.
When you continuously remember the awareness of your meditation object, without your attention being drawn to the other sense doors, then the awareness free from distraction starts to concentrates.
As it concentrates the agitation of the mind settles and the awareness starts to clarify and becomes one pointed in its attention. This will appear as increased clarity and stillness with the attention no longer being drawn outside, there can be a feeling of distance and the perception of the borders of your body will drop away with clear perception of awareness being aware of itself developing.
If the awareness becomes dull and contains ‘not knowing’, even if it is pleasurable, then it is the wrong path. If this happens then Mindfulness needs to be stimulated through investigation of the experience to bring it back into balance.
Your practice is headed in the right direction, but remember it is not the end goal but a stepping stone, notice any attachment you have to the pleasant feeling within it. Your task at this stage is to develop the concentration and steady it. The next stage will be to increase the strength of your Mindfulness through investigating, you do this by moving onto more subtle objects like the breath, then even more subtle like the mind and its relationship to pleasant and unpleasant feeling within the world.
These guided meditations are training for Mindfulness in Daily Life, they are strengthening the factors of investigation, mindfulness and concentration, this is done so that you will be able to transition the meditation practice from the cushion into everything you do leading to deep understanding and an equanimous mind, as the Buddha said “Lives, not clinging to anything in the world”, the end of mental pain and suffering
take care Stephen Procter
QUESTION from Namrata: I have been practicing mindfulness for the past 5 months and hence could relate with your website. According to your "softening to experience" video we need to identify the sensations in the body( in case of an unpleasant experience) and then change the mental "no" to "yes" and then move.
But my problem is I can feel the body sensation but don't understand how to "accept" the unpleasant sensation and eventually get rid of it. Your help is appreciated
ANSWER: Do not ever try to get rid of unpleasant sensations, this relationship of wanting to ‘get rid of’ is the problem, it is based on aversion and is the reason the cycle continues. The cycle will never end through aversion, reaction in any way will exercise and strengthen the reaction. It can only end through not participation and this is where the path of non-resistance and acceptance comes in.
The first stage is to ‘ground’ your attention in the sensations in your body starting with where your body touches the ground and then widening to take in all the sensations within your body.
The second stage is to notice where the unpeasant sensations are experienced and break them up into their elemental qualities such as 'hardness', tension', tightness', 'hot' etc.
The third stage is to notice the unpleasantness within the experience, it will appear as a 'taste' that permeates the sensations. Once you can seperate the unpleasantness hold you attention on it.
The fourth stage is to ‘soften’ into the unpleasantness using long deep gentle breaths into the abdomen, relaxing each time the breath goes out. Since the unpleasantness is a mental judgement, not the experience itself, the softening into / accepting causes the unpleasant feeling to disolve leaving the sensations which now appear as neutral.
Never use this technique to try to get rid of the experience, this will only re-enforce it, the way through is the path of nonresistance / acceptance.
Once the skill has been developed and Mindfulness becomes stronger it is also possible to notice and relax into the mental resistance before the sensations even appear in our body
take care Stephen Procter
QUESTION from Anomynous: Just need to ask something about what we spoke about last Thursday. With the sensations I feel on particular side of my body that I mentioned; I need to accept them as part of me not resist, don't judge it, ie, neither like or dislike it, relax into it when the emotional feelings about it arise, breathe and soften, which assists me to accept? Thanks again.
ANSWER:Yes, just be aware of the sensations and judgements and soften into both of them using deep gentle breathing.
This in itself is acceptance
Question Continued How can I use mindfulness in relation to my health and food intake. I want/need to lose weight, I do tend to emotionally eat and would like tohave a better relationship to food.
ANSWER: Mindfulness allows you to see the craving for the food arise before you eat it, when you notice this pull / attraction towards the food notice the pleasant feeling that raises and use the breathing to soften / relax into it. When you do this the pull / attraction will decrease and you will feel no desire to eat it. It is the same process as anxiety but based on pleasantness rather then unpleasantness
take care Stephen Procter