Is There a Difference? Meditation and Mindfulness

Buzz word: mindfulness.  Soon to be an energy drink that you pay a premium for because someone was clever and came up with a cool way to package it.  Of course if it isn’t organic, free trade and sold in a biodegradable format it’s not up to par.

So before you could possibly answer the following: 

Does the process of meditation differ from being mindful?   

One has to ask: 

What is your perception/description of  mindfulness? 

A lot of questions sprout up around this topic, like is mindfulness 

a spiritual Trojan horse to get around the defiance of the ego and assimilated into one’s life because there is a difference in how some people receive both words?

Mindfulness good, seems like a simple concept.  Meditation bad, it’s that boogeyman concept as a child where we thinks it’s safer to hide under the bed, the very same place the boogeyman resides.   

Inherently do we know it’s good for us but like apple cider vinegar tastes crap?   I know I was pretty ignorant at the stage in my life when I entered the Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai twenty some odd years ago to do a 21 day sit in silence.  My infamous first words, “What are we going to do , sit around all day and do nothing?”  Fuck was I in for a surprise.  Mindfulness as taught to us as part of that style of meditation seems to be different than what it‘s espoused to be in the countless articles present today. or people just say be mindful but there’s no real explanation nor is there a consensus.  

So what is mindfulness?

Consider this: somewhere it was said that the mind can only hold one thought at a time. What is a thought?  It’s something the mind has latched on to perhaps instigated by one of many forms of stimulus; sight, sound, physical feeling, emotional or energetic impulse, etc.  

The white board of your mind is just that, usually vast empty nothingness with many things floating into perception. 

So mindfulness revolves around how one pays attention to the moment.  What is in the moment of your mind’s focus is the rub.  The premise of mindfulness as taught to us in the temple is simply this:  One word actions describing the current moment inside our heads, not articulating them verbally out loud.  Basically, one word play by play descriptors.

When someone refers to a mindful way of being or doing something mindfully other factors have come into play that revolve around consideration.  Case in point, mindful eating is not just the attention to the physical act of eating so you stay in the moment.  (This article is not a how to but there will be something like that available shortly centering around the concept of eating).   It can include reverence and gratitude for the hands / sentient beings involved in the creation of the meal.  It can involve making a choice based on not supporting industries that destroy rain forests, or deciding not to eat a substance because it is harmful for the harmony of your body’s function. 

Which gets back to the original question:

Is there a difference between meditation and mindfulness?  

The thing here is that the essences of meditation are present in mindfulness but there’s more to meditation.  So this is where language is disempowering and it’s in experience and application that this seemingly simple question becomes known as answer.  If and when you meditate as a way of living you may come to realize that life is a meditation and all the colors and hues just bleed from one. 

Mindful being is about being in the present moment physically.  It’s an extension of the process of meditation of which one element is to harness the mind to be in the moment without obstruction. 

Based on the multitude of embarrassing instances where I’ve been mindless, like that split second where I didn’t put the lid on the blender jar (not to say that being mindless is always embarrassing), I’ll always defer to being mindful because the effort is worth it. 

Being mindful is probably one of the most powerful yet hardest and most underrated factors in successful behavior modification processes.  Reprogramming our conditioning is not the easiest especially in some areas when it comes to abolishing something that brings physical pleasure. Meditation is probably only second to love in bringing about great change on an individual and collective basis. Meditation we can control.  Love is love.

Written by Merlin X, practitioner and instructor of meditative methods for over 20 years. Author of Clear Your Mind, An Interactive Guide to Meditation. Connect on IG: nurtureurnature.ca

Letter to My 17 Year Old Self

 

This is before you have a pin put in your broken collar bone after that hockey tournament. That course in high school, physics, should have paid more attention, has a big impact on your life in the near and long term future.

The maxim, ‘no pain, no gain’, I can see why you’re not a big fan of it.  You will find out that there are many levels of it, physical, emotional, spiritual; all of which lead you to subscribe to ‘pain is a great teacher’ but there has to be a better way than the ‘hero’s journey’ to attain wisdom.

Breaking your collarbone, luckily the only bone you will break, is a blessing in disguise.  Say hello to weight training, fitness, nutrition, meditation, yoga, reiki, energy healing…not right away but this definitely was the catalyst.

IMG_1209

Be glad you had the fear of your father and the grit to say no to drugs, alcohol, smoking and PEDs. You’ll see a lot of great athletes that you grew up with become prime candidates for heart attacks and look nothing like their former athletic selves because of lifestyle choices.  You’re not off the hook with you sweet tooth so go easy on Dairy Queen blizzards, ya I know, they don’t exist yet but you are going to be hooked.

Hockey!  Football!  Tennis!  Cross country running!  Beach Volleyball???  Yep, had that been a sport in your teens you would’ve kissed hockey good bye.  What a blast it is.   You will never regret the countless hours spent training and gazillion reps nor the untold character building lessons any of these athletic endeavors have taught you however you will pay a price physically for it.  Kudos to the person that invents foam rollers in all their different shapes and sizes.

To the first girl I would have married at 26, thank you for being the first to break my heart and rightfully so.  That time period opened me to some great therapists and therapies, poetry, stand up comedy, feng shui , beach volleyball, meditation and Thailand and a much needed introduction to naturopathic medicine that altered my life.

IMG_0043

You’re going to get a rescue dog, a chocolate lab, because you think it’d be cool to have a dog like when you were a kid.  I’m laughing so hard right now because the first two weeks of having that dog changes one big stripe on your head from brown to grey.  He’s going to change your life in ways you never imagined.  Some of the best life lesson’s come in your early 40’s.  He’s going to be a guide and you will come to know the beauty of emotional availability, vulnerability, forgiveness, innocence, self love and so much more.  It ain’t going to be easy but it’s worth it.  Gratitude.

You’re going to own a few businesses.  Cool eh?  Not really, you’re going to be broke most of the time if you don’t wise up about your relationship with worthiness and abundance.   Landscaping will toughen you up and teach you about Mother Nature’s real beauty, she’s a psychotherapist and personal trainer all in one.  Crossfit, P90x will make you laugh after spending summers digging and hauling rock.

Did I mention you’re going to own a fitness studio, in a beautiful loft of all places, and create an organic juice bar with a smoothie menu that will be the healthy version of Dairy Queen blizzards???  Yep.  Losing it is going to be a tough one to swallow but you’ll bounce back with some help.

How you view life now at 17 is going to impact you for almost 30 years with a lot of stuff changing, for the better, sometimes quickly other times very slowly.  I mean like slower than watching paint dry, like a tree will grow faster, my point is seriously,  how thick can your skull be??   Your lense is a bit jaded but love in it’s various forms, will continue to guide you and then everything finally becomes clearer.  When you’re 46 the letter you write to your 57 year old self will be short and sweet.

 

Post written by Merlin X, creator of buff4.  Forever indebted to fitness and health for providing an arena of infinite growth and opportunity and looking forward to sharing as much as possible though this medium.

Cultural Shock

Ugggg so grossssss.  Tastes like liquid blue cheese.

Those were my famous first words after sipping plain kefir.

PANCAKE TUESDAY

If you think I’m going to relate how much I enjoyed the sweet, savory taste of pancakes drowning in good old fashioned maple syrup, surrounded by bodacious blueberries, surely you’ll be disappointed.
If you’re wondering how I got here, well it started after Pancake Tuesday was mentioned in a conversation with a neighbour. Time to step up to the challenge of 40 days and 40 nights without something that is like a staple in my diet.  I became inclined to take another kick at the can labeled Public Enemy #1 – my sweet tooth.

.IMG_1196

BITTERSWEET PSYCHE

I’ve battled my sugar addiction a lot. At least one or two challenges a year, sometimes with my clients or friends, annually for the last twelve years to try and reduce or eliminate my sweet tooth cravings. It’s hard to give up something that tastes good but little by little, year after year, seems to have more of an adverse impact on my health. It’s like I play Russian roulette with my health, how far can I push something or get away with something before the point of no return? I could go into an in depth tirade about some of the observations I’ve gathered about this habit but I’ll save it for another day. The longest I ever went without sugar was 30 days back in 2007. This latest challenge was also inspired by some research I’d done a few weeks back, I was looking up associations, connections on an energetic and/or emotional level to things like type 2 diabetes, pancreas and sugar cravings in general. Two things grabbed my attention, one was a distaste for bitterness or bitter things. Relatedly, was the harbouring of resentment(s). The latter is more important, for once I honestly thought to myself “What if I am resentful?” It was very possible and has led to more introspection. In that moment of plausible acceptance of my bitter, resentful aspect of self came something I hadn’t achieved in a while, a small sense of peace. Like, ok, if so, let’s deal with it now and see where this goes. Not saying that this challenge is easier but I have a different sense of calm. Even if I come in at a ninety percent success rate, I break an old personal best!

IMG_1266

 

SWEET 14

The difference between yuck and yum = 14 g of sugar.  I think I could still enjoy a tolerance level of 10g of added sugar. Wonder why it’s fourteen???

IMG_1267

HMMMM

See those three blueberries on the front of the bottle?  I’m sure that’s all they added because there is absolutely no difference in nutrient values for vitamins or fiber.  Which means the taste difference is solely the added sugar.

SUGAR SUBSTITUTE

The perfect way to get a better dose of sweetness was to add a third of a banana or half cup of fresh pineapple and blend.  Additionally, putting in a scoop of my plant based protein sweetened with stevia made a world of a difference as well.

CULTURAL SHOCK

Why kefir over yogurt?  Was hoping there was less sugar but the benefit boils down to the quantity of bacterial cultures present in kefir(probiotic content is at least 3 times as high) and possible impact on digestion, bloating and replenishing/boosting the healthy flora in the intestines.   I wasn’t able to find kefir using goat milk or coconut milk in my area and that will be a future experiment to be found here.

Post written by Merlin X, former owner of theLOFT Fitness Studio and Splurge Organic Juice Bar.

I Give Up Being Happy

I grew up seeking happiness and have definitely enjoyed a fair bit of it. I have attempted to recreate scenarios to evoke these feelings of goodness.  I have spent monumental amounts of energy and money trying to create happiness.  Happiness can be like a good one night stand but then you seek that pleasure through a variety of the same medium but different forms.  I can honestly say that yes, sometimes you have the power to create happiness and sometimes you don’t.  Other times something in your external environment resonates with you and you feel it.  Watching my dog amuse himself or play makes me happy . One would think that there is an instant association between dog and happiness but in my case I guarantee it’s not true. Every time I go for a walk by water or in nature I usually feel some therapeutic benefits in one way or another, the amplitude of the effect can be strong or mellow.  This may be run of the mill for many.  What I didn’t expect was the question in my mind,  “Why do I want to hold on to this?”   Yep, cue the crazy train.

I GIVE UP BEING HAPPY

If I don’t want negative feelings to last why would I expect or want positive ones too?  Nor had I ever considered the thought of sharing, anonymously, the feel good vibes.  Let me explain, you put out to the universe a question seeking resolution, or asking for something.  Sometimes the universe delivers a response.  Apparently the universe is an equal opportunist, you can also put out into the universal matrix the intent to share this feel good energy and let it find someone who could use a boost.  It’s like making a deposit into a global account of happy.   Sometimes when I feel good for no reason and become aware of this energy,  I send out that vibe to the universe with a general intent – give this to someone who could use it.  Which leads to another realization, it’s energy.  I don’t own it, I can feel it, express, share it, evoke it but I don’t own it.  I am responsible for it and can hold myself accountable to it so it’s like I’m a transient point of conduction.

WHAT THE MEDITATIVE PROCESS SHOWED ME ABOUT HAPPINESS
This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be happy, it does mean I’m not trying to manifest it anymore either, but this important lesson came to me as a residual effect of the meditative process.

Written by Merlin X, a practitioner and instructor of meditative methods for 2o years.  For more on meditation visit nurtureurnature.ca 

Encroaching Enlightenment

lotus_apr.jpg

My Buddha, The Cockroach

I was away from home for the first time in 12 years.First trip anywhere without the family. First trip with a girlfriend.First trip that turned out to be a 3 month backpacking adventure in Thailand. First 14 hours of a 72 hour determination, no sleep allowed, full on meditation, in a 10 by 25 foot room.First time attacked by a cockroach

How is it that you can go over 2 weeks without seeing a single solitary roach (which during the trip was a common occurrence) and then get attacked by one?Are roaches not worthy enough to be on temple grounds and this was a renegade roach?How did I find myself in this predicament?

Continue reading “Encroaching Enlightenment”

Botox – The Shit We Do To Ourselves

The warning from Health Canada reads:  Botox Can Spread

It has caused deaths.  In children.  Children??  Calm down before you scrunch your face so hard you’re a candidate for an injection too!  Apparently there are 2 forms of the product.  One for treatment of spasms and one for facial wrinkles.  Not sure how different the two are though.  For more on the warning

Botox Quick Stats brought to you by Women’s Health Magazine:

botox-stats

Which leads, maybe not, to something that would make you scratch your head:  Why the hell would you pay so much to put a toxin in your body/face that can (A) potentially kill you  (B) isn’t all that effective  (C) makes part of your face look like one of those under-the- skin zits not quite ready to pop  (D) was designed for biological warfare in WWII?