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The Top Ten Mistakes Made by Meditation Practitioners
-By Dr William Van Gordon-
In line with growing interest into meditation amongst scientists, medical professionals and the general public, more and more publications are explaining how we should practice meditation. However, few resources focus on how meditation can go wrong.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Are you breathing? Are you aware that you are alive? These may seem like strange questions but look closely at what they are asking. Are you truly aware that you are breathing and are you truly aware that you are living? Are you fully aware of your in-breath and your out-breath? Whether that breath is long or short, deep or shallow, rough or smooth? Are you aware of the point where breath enters the body at the tips of the nostrils? Are you aware of the empty space that exists between the in-breath and out-breath? Is your breathing natural and relaxed or are you forcing it? Does your out-breath stop when you breathe out, or does it continue throughout space and time? Is your in-breath your in-breath or is it made up of other peoples’ out-breath? Can you see your out-breath in the trees, rivers, and oceans? Can you see your breath the eyes of the person you dislike, or in the tears of the homeless person who is alone and neglected by society?
Let’s leave the breath for a moment and examine our thoughts, words, and actions during the day. Are you fully aware of all that you experience during the day? Or does the day simply happen? We begin our day with getting up in the morning and before we know it, the sun has set and we’re falling back to sleep. The day has passed. It will never return again. Another day of our lives has expired. Perhaps on Sunday you clean the house but I ask you – are you fully present when you clean the house or are you thinking about Facebook or what you’ll be watching on the television later in the evening? Alternatively, are you thinking about returning to work on Monday and the various tasks you will have to complete? The days pass, the weeks pass, we can’t wait for our holidays and they pass too. The years pass, and we get old and die.
Life is a rare and fragile gift. If we are fortunate, we may live for 100 years. Each and every moment contained within those 100 years is unique. Nobody else will experience that moment and it will never arise again. It was born, it lived, and it died. It has gone forever. If we are not fully aware of all that we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch in each and every moment then we have to conclude that we are not fully alive. The person who chooses not to be fully aware of their life is no better than a walking corpse. Would you agree?
We are born with an in-breath and we leave this world with an out-breath. That which happens in between is the precious gift of life. Be aware of it. Breathe it moment by moment. Enjoy it. Live it. It is yours to live.
Dr William Van Gordon from the Centre for Psychological Research at University of Derby discusses mindfulness as a solution to stress-related illness.