Episode 4: Mindfulness and Inner Peace

Episode Summary

This week is about Mindfulness and Inner Peace. We look at how we can drop into this feeling of inner peace in any single moment. And how with training we can access this more and more in our lives.

Episode Notes

As humans we want to belong to something and in our belonging, feel a sense of value from that also. There are loads of ways that we feel we do or don’t belong but we all need this feeling of belonging, we all need to feel loved and we’re always looking to stay in environments that give us this feeling.

Thank you for listening and have a listen to this last weeks episode: How To Cope With Feeling Overwhelmed 

…Until next time

Keith Horan at The Mindfulness Community 


You’re listening to Keith from the mindfulness community and we’re talking about mindfulness and self compassion, how it can help you with stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and Just bring about more peace so thanks for being here…

Welcome to Episode Four of the show. Today, it’s all about peace of mind, we’ll look at how in every moment, more inner peace is available to us. Also, how in a broader and longer term way, we can follow a path that brings us to a more steady, continuous place of inner peace. later in the show, I’ll share some really practical meditation tips and then in the middle, we’ll drop into a short mindfulness practice, like a two minute mindfulness on the go, practice.

Hey, there, I’m recording this on a Sunday morning in early January, I’m just back from a walk, we’ve got like a five K or a three mile loop here, that’s really nice. It’s also the first day this winter that’s below freezing. Like we get really mild winters in Galway. But yeah, it’s maybe three or four degrees below zero now, so all the puddles are frozen, and it’s really bright and sunny out. I’ve already seen pictures of friends in sea swimming this morning, like running across frozen beaches and into the water. And I think there’s some people going later today. So maybe I braved the water. But it’s a Sunday. So no rushing around. Which is great, because today’s topic is all about mindfulness and inner peace. I’m going to come at this from sort of two different angles. So on the one hand, seeing what’s possible in the moment, and then on the other, what’s possible over the more long term. Let’s start in a moment, like what’s possible to do in any given moment. One basic and maybe familiar idea to you is that mindfulness is all about coming back to the present. And often that on its own, just coming back to the present brings about more steadiness, more feeling of connection. And it’s like a more peaceful place to be, as opposed to like thinking back getting stuck in the past or, you know, loads of planning or worrying about the future. And there’s nothing wrong with, you know, drifting towards the past or future. And there’s times we need to plan and do things like that. But the catch tends to be that sometimes we’re just not aware that we’re ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. It’s like just an automatic thing that’s happening, we go into automatic pilot, we’re daydreaming. And next thing we get caught into a worry, we wouldn’t have planned it like, we might have chosen to even think about that topic. But the habit is there, we drift into it and we spend some time worrying.

So for example, on my walk today, I’ll be walking along, I’ll stop, I’ll notice a bird or listen to one of the birds. And then I’m walking and I’m daydreaming. And maybe I’ll get caught into planning and thinking and reminiscing. And that’s fine. But then every so often just checking in and seeing our key. I’ve missed the last few 100 metres, I haven’t noticed anything, just coming back, maybe noticing the feet on the floor as you’re walking, you know, the temperature of the air, and just kind of pausing coming back into the moment, noticing what’s around me. And in this way, it leads to a much nicer walk. And so that’s available to us all the time. It doesn’t really take much skill or practice to do this. It’s more about remembering. And later in today’s episode, we’ll drop into like a two minute practice, like an example of doing this. And again, it’s not a very technical thing. It’s usually about engaging the senses, like somehow coming back to the body and using one or more of the senses to sort of come back to the present But then let’s take another view a more long term view, and sort of explore what’s happening in a real mindfulness practice. So one way I was taught is that there’s actually three different things that we’re training. And I really liked this. So the first one is training in attention. Or you could think concentration. The second is a training in wisdom or insight. And the third, it’s hard to find the right words, but something like a training in, like natural morality. And I’d have to kind of unpack that to see like, what’s that all about? But yeah, taking them in turn, we often associate meditation practice with developing concentration. And that is a sort of central thing that’s happening. So we’re developing our attention, our ability to sort of put the mind somewhere and it kind of stays there. And, you know, you need to do this skillfully, you can’t force it. In fact, the harder you try, and the more you force it, the slower the progress is, right. So we have to do this really nicely. And really skillfully. Over time, that concentration, anyone’s concentration just gradually gets stronger. And we have to be kind of realistic about this. Like, it’s not something that can be forced in like a week or a few meditation practices. I was originally taught that, that it takes about six months to two years to develop really steady concentration. And that seems about right, to me Actually, something like that. But the good news is like, it doesn’t take that length of time to start getting the benefits of meditation, actually, they can come much more quickly, there can be a little bit more sparkle to our lives quite soon after we kind of get a regular practice going. So that’s training and concentration. And I should say that like these three sort of trainings or skills, they kind of build on each other like so the first leads to more of the second, which leads to the third. And that allows us to have even more of the first more concentration and the sort of cycle around like that. So anyway, that’s the first one concentration. The second one is insight or wisdom. And this is a bit more subtle. So like, this is all about noticing what’s happening in our own minds. Like in the practice, we just become able to see more clearly, the way we’re wired. Like the patterns we have the habits, we have the things we get really annoyed at the things that make us angry, the things we really like. What’s really nice about this is, as we start to see some patterns, especially ones that are unhelpful for us, as soon as we see them, they start to kind of loosen their grip on us, like they’ve less of a less of a hold over us.

For example, if I notice, I’m really, really restless, just by kind of noticing and acknowledging that, actually, the restlessness can start to fall away a little bit. And as we continue our practice, these patterns generally have less and less hold of us. And this gives us like loads of extra energy that we never had. And we’re able to kind of live a little bit more spontaneously, like sometimes it can feel that we’re sort of pre programmed, you know, the same thing that annoys me on a Monday, if it happens on a Tuesday, I’ll get annoyed, and then on a Wednesday, and we really get stuck in these kind of patterns of our ways of being. And, you know, with practice by just noticing, observing, being curious, accepting, by kind of doing all that, we start to be able to let go of the habits and feel a bit more free,
a little bit more alive. And yeah, and actually, we have more energy, we have more creativity. And then that brings me to the
third one. Natural morality is one way of seeing us. And what this really means is that we find ourselves naturally living more and more in line with how we’d like to be living. It’s not some set of rules imposed on us from outside, but it’s our own gut feeling of how we want to live. We find ourselves just in more in harmony with that. That’s why the word natural is good here, like we we’re not forcing ourselves to try and be good or trying to live a certain way. It just naturally feels like the way to live. Or sometimes the word spontaneous is here. Like we we start to know spontaneously what to do in any different circumstance. We don’t so much have to follow a set of rules or especially external rules. We just have a feeling like ah, here’s what’s happening in front of me. Here’s what’s arising And we just know how to respond. And that response is sort of spontaneous. So yeah, it’s a kind of morality where it feels like joyful and light and, and fun, and makes things really interesting. Do we need to know all these details of these three trainings like the concentration, the wisdom, and this natural morality, actually not really doing the practice on its own? causes these results like, these things all naturally come about through practice, but, but I thought I’d share them because it’s interesting, it gives an insight into like, what is a real mindfulness practice? Like, where does it bring us? How does it work?

Why might it be worth our time kind of exploring? learning it really well? And, yeah, and putting some effort into it? Okay, so that’s plenty talk about that. Let’s, let’s jump into a shark practice. What can we use to, to help us come into the present moment, or pretty much any of the senses, that’s a great place to start? So you know, wherever you are, may be noticing contact that your feet have with the floor? Like whether you’re driving or sitting down, or standing or walking? is kind of noticing that nothing special it just kind of dropping your attention down? Like, are your feet warm or cold? Can you notice any sensations there? pressure contact? And then what else? How about looking around you? Just wherever you are? Can you just kind of take in the colours and shapes? And I don’t know the shiny things, the brightness, the darkness? You know, just opening up to the visual sense. How about sound? Are there any sounds that you can hear right now?
Actually, there’s very little for me, then it’s just the quietness. And what else what else could help you feel really hear, like, sometimes I find moving my hands a little bit, like deliberately, you know, rubbing your fingers on your palms, and just kind of having that sort of tangible feeling of having a body. And finally, in the middle of all this, you know, seeing things here in the body, how about the breathing, just a few breaths. Just being here in the middle of all of this. And just breathing and then letting go of any effort at all. So thanks for doing that practice. And it’s the type of thing you can just drop into at any time of the day, and it lasts a little bit. And then then it’s pretty natural to get caught up into thoughts and dizziness and everything else. And then maybe later in the day you catch yourself and come back again. Let’s finish up today with just some some tips and thoughts on on how to have a nice meditation practice. So these are all things that I teach in, in the mindfulness community. So the first thing is like the length of your practice. So I always advise people 10 or 15 minutes, that’s a really good length of practice. And it’s also way more important to try and get a regular number of days in rather than sort of sporadically having these long sessions.

1015 minute sessions are grace. And I’ll go into more details on on really getting into a meditation practice in future episodes, but I’ll just leave you with, with some attitudes that really make a difference when you’re starting out. This is from Jon Kabat Zinn’s work, a teacher I really admire. And, you know, he sometimes lists seven characteristics needed. Or sometimes he lists nine. But let’s start with three. So the first one is curiosity. So it actually really helps your practice to be curious. like not to be needing a specific outcome, but just to like, really enjoy looking and seeing what’s there. And it’s one of the things I find, I’m really grateful that after, like, more than 20 years of meditating, I’m still really curious, like, I’m not bored at all. I’m really curious to see what happens, what can I notice? And it’s always changing. So curiosity is important. I mean, to notice things you have to look. And what is it that makes you look, that’s curiosity. The second quality is patience. And that’s why I mentioned from the start, like to develop a steady meditation practice to develop steady concentration. Realistically, it’s like six months to two years, that’s sort of what it takes. And it’s great to know that from the start, so that, you know, so people are easy on themselves and not forcing things. Like I remember about 10 years ago, I went back running like road running. And I remember trying to just be able to run a five K. You know, initially, I tried to do that by just going out the door and running as hard as I could. And seeing if I could do a five K and being discouraged and being annoyed at myself, because I expected to do it straightaway. Because I used to be able to do that before and, and all of that kind of stuff. And then I just followed a programme, where it was actually like a walk, run, walk this many metres run this amount to this many minutes. And then over a couple of months, I found myself comfortably able to enjoy running a five K. And then it went on and on and on. And eventually my wife and I could run marathons just by following the same sort of step by step process. And it’s like that with meditation, just kind of being patient and following a good system and doing it gradually. That’s the best. And the third quality, then is maybe the most important, it’s acceptance. So our practice really can start to flourish, when we have more acceptance of ourselves, and an acceptance of where we’re at. I often see people coming into a meditation practice and trying really hard and kind of demanding loads from themselves and expecting to get somewhere really quickly and being frustrated and going through all that. And then after a few weeks, kind of just letting go. Like, if they’re, if they take in all the instructions, they just find they let go and realise Ah, this is actually what my mind is like, it’s jumping around all over the place. I’m really restless, I’m really distracted. And just kind of accepting. Yeah, that’s where it’s at. That’s where I’m starting from. And yeah, so that quality of just accepting what’s there. If we don’t have that, actually, we won’t look and we won’t see things clearly. So the nice thing about the practice and acceptance is there is no need to rush anywhere and there’s no need to rush to transform ourselves. It’s more about just being where we are just accepting where we’re at staying in that place and and then the transformation comes to us. Okay, so I think that’s a nice place to finish up. And I can also see my wife is just back from the village. So I think it’s a good time to go for that cold swim. I really hope you found found this helpful.

So thanks for listening and take care. You can find today’s show notes and more great resources at Keith Horan calm and I’d be delighted if you would leave a quick rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. This helps us in reaching people and growing the show. Thanks so much for listening.

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