Mindfulness and Mountains

One of the best ways I find for recovering my inner strength and recharging my batteries is being in the mountains. Living in Switzerland, I feel very lucky as I can quickly escape and in a couple of hours be in places of extreme beauty.

Wallis Panorama

Last year, I published a nice post about mountains and especially the so-called “mountain-meditation” from Kabat-Zinn. Today, I found another guiding text that I want to share here with you now. It also comes from Kabat-Zinn and is adapted from “Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life“. Enjoy!

The mountain meditation

When it comes to meditation, mountains have a lot to teach us. The image of a the mountain held in the mind’s eye and in the body, can refresh our memory of why we are sitting, and of what it really means to dwell in the realm of non-doing.

 

Picture the most beautiful mountain you know – or can imagine. Notice its overall shape, the lofty peak, the base rooted in the rock of the earth’s crust, the sloping sides. Note how massive it is, how unmoving, how beautiful.

 

See if you can bring the mountain into your own body – your head becomes the lofty peak; your shoulders and arms the sides of the mountain; your buttocks and legs the solid base rooted to your cushion on the floor or to your chair.

 

Notice any emotions you are feeling and your mood as though they are the weather around the mountain. Is your weather right now sunny and calm or stormy with lashing rain, is it icy or warm? Allow your personal weather to be the way it is, noticing if it intensifies, changes or stays the same through the meditation.

 

Fully become the breathing mountain, unwavering in your stillness, completely what you are – beyond words and thought, a centred, rooted, unmoving presence.

 

As the light changes, as night follows day and day night, the mountain just sits, simply being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another and as the weather changes moment by moment. Storms may come, but still the mountain sits.

 

Calmness abiding all change.

Glimpse on the Matterhorn

 

 

 

How assumptions can mislead us

Perceptions, assumptions and thoughts can lead us completely in the wrong direction sometimes

To illustrate what I mean by that, I would like to share a story with you; something that you might have experienced as well, in one form or another. It is entitled “Cookie Thief” from Valerie Cox.

A woman was waiting at the airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shop,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book, but happened to see,
That the man beside her, as bold as could be,
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

Photo credit: Mrs Magic via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

She read, munched cookies, and watched the clock,
As the gustly “cookie thief” diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!”

 

With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he’d do.
with a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, and he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought, “Oh brother,
This guy has some nerve, and he’s also so rude,
Why, he didn’t even show any gratitude!”

She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate,
Refusing to look at the “thieving ingrate”.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise.
There were her bag of cookies in front of her eyes!

“If mine are here,” she moaned with despair.
“Then the others were his and he tried to share!”
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!!!!

 

What did you think reading this? Have you experienced something similar in your life before?

What can we learn from this? Well, next time you find yourself in a difficult, challenging situation, take a moment to be mindful and challenge your assumptions, checking what the reality really looks like instead. Maybe you are getting entangled in your mind’s stories, triggering emotions, sensations, judgements…

Things are not always as they appear and taking a moment to pause and observe what is will allow you to respond more skillfully and to communicate more effectively.

The effects of being kind and attentive

Did you know that being kind to yourself and to others has considerable consequences? Everybody knows that responding in a mindful, curious, open, non-judgmental and kind manner in situations of interpersonal communication is a key to effectively transmitting your message and generating a fruitful dialogue.

Kindness

Photo credit: katerha via Foter.com / CC BY

But what I am sure you did not know is that a Japanese researcher was actually able to demonstrate the effects of kind words versus mean words/insults in water crystals. During many years, Masuro Emoto  took photographs of various water crystals. He then exposed them to words, pictures, emotions, even music that were either more of a positive or a negative nature. The shapes and forms of the water crystals positively influenced became even more beautiful; the ones receiving a negative treatment became ugly and even deformed.

If you think about us humans composed of 60% of water, it is incredible to imagine what effect positive words, thoughts or else can have on our system…

There apparently is an experiment that you could try out at home to see this for yourself (I still have to do it):

Fill two small glasses with a little bit of cooked rice; add some water on top of the rice. On one of the glasses, put a label on which you would write the words you would typically use when insulting/being mean to somebody (for example: “You idiot”). On the other glass, you put a label writing a nice thought, kind and pleasant words.  (For example: “You are beautiful”). Please chose your own words!

Now put the two glasses away from each other and every day, for the next three weeks you will now:

  • Insult the glass with the “mean” label
  • Very gently and kindly speak to the glass with the “kind” label.

Progressively you will perceive the effects: the glass with the “mean” label will begin to smell badly and even decompose (rot). The “kind” glass will release a pleasant odor, sometimes even somewhat sweet. The rice will still be white, whereas in the other glass the rice will become dark.

Please be sure to let me know what you found out!