Meditation is a powerful tool to bring along the path to wellbeing. There are many different ways to meditate, but the aim is generally to cultivate deeper awareness of our current condition. In meditation, we can come to see our thoughts, emotions, and cognitive patterns with more clarity. Maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude is important in generating this clear insight. Once we see the way in which our attention is so often grabbed by fantasies and dramas, we begin to have more control over our minds and can keep our attention on the present moment. In turn, we become more aware of our bodies and the wisdom they hold, as well as everyday beauty we ordinarily miss. Meditative insight is both developed by a compassionate attitude, and also helps to generate compassion, because it allows us to see the way in which human minds perpetuate suffering. That is to say, meditation shows us that we are all in the same boat. We are all here, right now, but our forgetfulness of that fact can lead us into resentments, confusion, and all sorts of other sufferings.
What is Mindfulness?
Dr. Weisbaum breaks down this deceptively complex question, pointing out the traditional history of mindfulness and its many modern definitions. She also emphasizes the importance of cultivating an attitude of compassion and kindness as central to being mindful.
On Focused Attention, a Type of Mindfulness Practice
How can mindfulness become a part of our daily lives? Dr. Weisbaum answers this question by looking at the ‘three pillars of mind training,’ one of which is Focused Attention. She explains why learning how to focus is important in quieting our minds, calming our anxieties, and strengthening our ability to choose presence.
What Is Mindful Meditation & How To Practice It
As part of Mental Wellness Month, U of T Scarborough Professor Zindel Segal takes us through a guided mindfulness meditation.
Beautiful Minds Guided Meditation
Combining the powers of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic imaging, John walks us through four modalities of inner strength and nourishment: Caring, Helping, Celebrating, and Resting. This progression uses our innate skills of friendliness and resilience to pervade our experience with supportive energies, encouraging establishment of safe spaces for ourselves and those around us. Listen or view with closed captions.
Selected resources for learning more
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life – “In this book Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations in our daily life that usually pressure and antagonise us. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next conscious breath and the smile we can form right now. For him a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to “mindfulness”—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality” – Plumvillage.org
In an important 2021 lecture, ” Creating Safe(r) Spaces for Mindfulness of Breath“, Dr. Nalika Gajaweera alerts us to the importance of race in mindfulness spaces: “In Vipassana meditation practice, the first common object is the breath. By allowing the breath to be the focus of your awareness, one lets the social world full of discursive thought, self-reflexivity and judgement move into the background. Yet, as intimate and solitary as this breath practice is, many individuals turn to communities of solitary practice such as sitting groups and retreat spaces, as safe grounds or anchors to turn their gaze inward and attend to the tacit, embodied dimension of their being. This presentation critically evaluates how for non-white people of color in North America who practice in institutional spaces that are predominantly white, such silence and safety is interrupted by race. By drawing on fieldwork conducted in California among mindfulness communities, Dr. Gajaweera explores assumptions about mindfulness that North American black and non-black people of color expose and problematize through their engagement with mindfulness. The presentation asks, how in the context of racialized history of the United States and institutional whiteness, how we might more fully appreciate the “noble” breath of meditation, not as simply empty and neutral, but rather as supersaturated with history and power.”