Meditation 5 "Imagine"
Updated: Aug 18, 2019
There are three common responses to stress:
1. Ignore it. Keep anxious or stressed thoughts as background chatter.
2. Over attached to it. Addicted to the drama in our mind and body like a soap opera.
3. Resist it. Feel sad and distressed by recurrent anxious thoughts.
These are normal responses. People live normal lives and have normal relationships but there are other more helpful ways to deal with difficult emotions.
This course of meditations uses a 4 step approach called R.A.I.N. developed by mindfulness teacher Michele McDonald. RAIN stands for:
Become aware of what’s really happening. On the surface we might feel anger, but underneath there can be an element of fear or hurt or some other emotion. We simply name what is present emotionally and physically.
Learn to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and physical sensations rather than push them away. Witness them and extend some kindness towards ourselves and our suffering.
Bring an attitude of openness and curiosity rather than denial and fear to emotionally and/or physically charged experiences. Extending friendliness towards our situation as though we are supporting a much loved friend or relative having a similar problem. Learning to interact with feelings and pain in a gentle, thoughtful way. Allowing space for insights to emerge as to why we find our current situation difficult.
Learning to see thoughts and feelings as passing phenomena in the mind, coming and going like waves rise and fall, or clouds pass over a clear sky. Remembering that for most of us these experiences pass. Taking a step back and observing them rather than being consumed by them.
In short we are learning to make friends with our mind. These meditations are a way to start that journey. “Create Calm” by Kate James is a new short, easy read you might like to give a try that has lots of simple hints for creating more composure and calm in your life.
In Meditation 5 we use visualization. Neuro-scientific research demonstrates that for our minds there is no difference between doing something we aspire to and imagining it. Imagination is a powerful tool. It can change our brains and lives. Ancient wisdom traditions record this same truth in a more poetic way:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
The Buddhist Dalai Lama calls this the faith of aspiration. The ancient Indian Sanskrit word for it is Kalpana. Confucius talked about the importance of ordering our inner world:
“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order. To put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order. To put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must set our hearts right.”
You may like to keep a card with the layers of noting on it that we are doing in these meditations for ease of reference. They are:
1. Thought, feeling, sensation
2. Past, present, future
3. Pleasant, unpleasant, neutral