Frequently Asked Questions
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness helps us to track our experience moment by moment; to be able to direct our attention where we choose to direct it while developing the skills of concentration, equanimity and sensory clarity working together. It is the combination of these three skills that have the powerful ability to greatly reduce human suffering and increase the baseline of human happiness in profound ways. Meditation is a formal practice that builds the skill and muscle for bringing a mindful awareness to day to day life.
How is Unified Mindfulness different from other approaches that I have experienced like focusing on breath or mantra?
The beauty of the Unified Mindfulness approach as designed by world renown teacher, Shinzen Young is that it is grounded in a beautiful synthesis of world contemplative practices and modern science. It offers a smorgasbord of practice possibilities that are creative and customizable so that each person can develop a practice that is specific to their needs, interests and desires. Rather than just talking about the need for practice in daily life, UM offers very detailed and specific strategies for practice anywhere at any time. This means that every moment is ripe for building skill, presence and freedom.
What does "sensory based"practice mean?
I am very happy with my current religious affiliation and practices.
No. UM is a secular approach to modern mindfulness. Though some of the teaching is based in the rich practices offered to the west through Buddhism and other contemplative practices -anyone can learn these techniques and apply them freely to any area of personal interest. Often times people find that the religious traditions that they cherish are deepened by mindfulness practices.
I can’t sit and meditate, my mind is too busy, can I still practice Mindfulness and experience benefit?
YES of course! The notion that the practice of mindfulness and mindful meditation is supposed to turn our minds off is mistaken. The mind is by nature active just like a river or stream. What we seek to transform is our relationship to the busy mind while discovering what the sensory components of "thinking" are. By being able to build this kind of sensory literacy, our busy minds are no longer a problem- its just nature expressing itself in movement just like our hearts are beating and breath flowing in and out.
What’s the difference between things like sound baths/sound healing, relaxation and mindfulness meditation?
Sound healing, Music Therapy, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch or other wonderful healing practices can have benefits similar to mindfulness and meditation such as reduction of stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, boost immune function, and improve mood- but there are some very fundamental differences in terms of intention and application. Healing assumes that there is some sort of imbalance or dis- ease- that needs restoring or fixing. Effects can be short term or long term depending on the modality. Mindfulness meditation and practice in daily life is much like weight training- it takes time. It's not a quick fix. It requires time under tension- aka practice! Through daily practice in stillness and in action we build strength and stability in body and heart and mind. These skills applied to any experience, over time - can nurture deep insight into the human experience. that are not only healing but deeply empowering, liberating and transformative in every aspect of life and relationship.
Friends are always telling me "chill out" and" let go"- but I just cant seem to do it. Whats wrong with me? How is equanimity different?
Often when we are told to "just let go" or just "chill out" it can indeed feel like there is something wrong with us when we find ourselves unable to do it. We can feel pushed around by our thoughts and feelings no matter how hard we try to stop. The practice of equanimity is very different. Equanimity is about allowing what is there to be there without push or pull. We don't make our experience bigger and we don't try to minimize it, we just gently and kindly acknowledge whats there and let it be. This skill provides a bit of breathing room between any stimulus and our response to it which can be rather liberating. Equanimity doesn't mean we don't have strong feelings or responses- it just means that we can grow a different relationship to them. Its a key skill , when applied with patience and kindness, that provides space and choice in how we want to surf our own experience. This can be enormously liberating in all areas of our very demanding lives.