Perspective is a useful component of mindfulness practice. As human beings, we experience our lives through our bodies, senses, energy, thought and a deeper sense of who we are. Thought is compelling. Often a memory comes up that we look at through our own eyes. Whether it is a still photo or a video clip, this perspective feels like we are in the scene, re-experiencing the event through our eyes and the energy in our body. We take a step back and see ourselves in the image. With this slightly different perspective, it is more possible to remember this is a memory surfacing, not something happening in this moment. We have a bit more space – to look at the images, notice words, and feel into the energy. Much of the content in our thoughts is our brain making associations and trying to figure things out to keep us out of danger. That’s how we work.

My meditation teacher often used the analogy of an ocean. Sometimes the surface is calm. Other times high waves are swamping the boat. Whatever the surface conditions, the vast depths are always still. Yet when we’re being tossed about on the surface, fearing for our very life, we can forget to breathe, to relax, to tune in to the stillness that is always there. The remedy is not to reject or ignore thoughts. It isn’t wrong that our brains work this way and we can let go of judging ourselves for our busy minds. And with practice, we are not being held in THRALL by all the stuff that flows through the mind and triggers energy in our body. It is part of our experience and we are attending to it, all the while knowing this content and activity are not all of who we are.

The cumulative effect of relaxation practices and meditation is that we become familiar with the layers of our being and realize through direct experience we are more than our thoughts. We forget about the depths when we’re fully absorbed in the top layers. We practice focusing on the breath and notice thoughts are still in the mind. We practice noticing stillness and have these little glimpses of it. Then we get absorbed in a compelling thought for awhile. Because we practice, we remember to drop back in to include all of our layers and dimensions.

We may temporarily lose sight of stillness and depth but once we know, we know. That is the core of why these practices are transformative.

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