Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible.

So Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, caste, sexuality, or gender. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realise and use its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives.

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from the Buddhist Centre

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Ever wondered why meditation retreats and monasteries of all spiritual traditions are often found in the mountains or deep in the forest? There are many benefits of meditation in nature—it’s a place where wisdom and perception come alive. Meditating outdoors activates our senses, making our practice more alert and wakeful. At the same time, the usual distractions seem far away and somehow less important. Many meditators find it easier to let go of their worries and their electronic devices when they’ve got such a satisfying alternative: mindfully communing with nature.

Meditating with Nature

In Asia, the accomplished meditators of yore believed that isolation in the wilderness was conducive to advanced mindfulness training. They would retreat to hermitages carved into mountains or hidden among the flora of the jungle and spend time in deep contemplation. Many ancient poems and chants evoke the wonder of such retreats. A verse by Han-shan, a 7th century hermit who lived on Cold Mountain in China, describes this experience beautifully:

Today I sat before the cliff,
Sat a long time till mists had cleared.
A single thread, the clear stream runs cold;
A thousand yards the green peaks lift their heads.
White clouds—the morning light is still;
Moonrise—the lamp of night drifts upward;
Body free from dust and stain,
What cares could trouble my mind?

(From Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the Tang Poet Han-shan, translated by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press)

Photographs by CRUSH Photography©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from Mindworks

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Restorative yoga is suitable for practitioners of all levels. By definition, restorative yoga is a restful practice that holds yoga poses (asanas) for a longer duration using props like yoga blocks, blankets, and bolsters. It is a practice of deep relaxation that emphasizes the meditative aspect of yoga – the union of body and mind. Through the use of props for support, many of the postures are held almost effortlessly.

When the body enters a state of relaxation the mind can also consciously relax as tension is released from both body and mind. The only work that’s required on your part during a restorative yoga practice is to pay attention to your breath and become aware of any sensations or thoughts that may arise.

The general trend in Western yoga is to make it a practice geared toward the athletic, aerobic, and acrobatic styles of the practice. During typical vinyasa classes, for instance, you move quickly from one pose to another as you build heat and increase your strength and flexibility over time. While these energetic styles of yoga focus on muscular engagement, restorative yoga relaxes the muscles by using props to support the body. In some restorative postures, you will also receive a gentle stretch. Restorative yoga poses are held anywhere from 5–20 minutes.

Restorative classes are typically mellow and low-energy, making them a great complement to more active practices (as well as our busy lives) and an excellent antidote to stress. Stillness is a powerful practice.

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from verywellfit.com

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How to Sit for Mindfulness Meditation

  1. Take your seat. Whatever you’re sitting on – a chair, a meditation cushion, a park bench – find a spot that gives you a stable, solid seat, not perching or hanging back.
  2. Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion on the floor, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. (If you already do some kind of seated yoga posture, go ahead.) It’s good if the bottoms of your feet are touching the floor.
  3. Straighten – but don’t stiffen – your upper body. The spine has natural curvature. Let it be there. Your head and shoulders can comfortably rest on top of your vertebrae.
  4. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Then let your hands drop onto the tops of your legs. With your upper arms at your sides, your hands will land in the right spot. Too far forward will make you hunch. Too far back will make you stiff. You’re tuning the strings of your body – not too tight and not too loose.
  5. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. You may let your eyelids lower. If you feel the need, you may lower them completely, but it’s not necessary to close your eyes when meditating. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
  6. Be there for a few moments. Relax. Bring your attention to your breath or the sensations in your body.
  7. Feel your breath – Draw your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest. Choose your focal point, and with each breath, you can mentally note “breathing in” and “breathing out.”
  8. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you get around to noticing your mind wandering – in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes – just gently return your attention to the breath.
  9. Practice pausing before making any physical adjustments. Such as moving your body or scratching an itch. With intention, shift at a moment you choose, allowing space between what you experience and what you choose to do.
  10. You may find your mind wandering constantly. That’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with or engaging with those thoughts as much, practice observing without needing to react. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back over and over again without judgment or expectation.
  11. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Pausing for a moment, decide how you’d like to continue on with your day.

It’s often been said that to Practice Mindfulness Meditation is very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

Image by CRUSH Photography©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from www.mindful.org/mi more...

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