CAUTION: IMMERSIVE MINDFULNESS CAN LEAD TO WELLNESS & AWE
More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Better sleep, reduced anxiety, decreased pain, enhanced mental clarity and creativity have all been documented in research studies. When one version of these practices works for us, we naturally tend to stick with it. After all, it is called a “practice”, right? Something we do over and over again to become proficient at it. There is still value in exploring new options every once and awhile, expanding horizons to see what else is out there. One such practice of intense, immersive mindful focus is described by Christopher Wallis in his book The Recognition Sutras. In addition, Wallis, also known as “Hareesh”, has videos demonstrating these thousand-year-old practices in a gentle way easily accessible to Westerners.
Meditation on Reality involves becoming very intimate with our five senses, and even our interoception, the perception of sensations from inside the body. Interoception has been called “the hidden sense that shapes well-being.” What goes on inside our bodies is usually sub-conscious; in other words, we don’t pay much attention to it. And yet, since our emotions are part of this felt sense of who we are, they all have aspects related to bodily sensations. Becoming aware of these internal sensations (without judgment!) not only gives us better intuition about our health and well-being, it gives us control. Becoming aware of what is going on in my body allows me choice: choice about how I will care for my body, choice about the beliefs and attitudes I hold about my body, choice about actions which align with my own unique well-being.
The Meditation on Reality sounds a bit simpler than the actual practice, and yet reaps unexpected rewards. Sitting in a comfortable position, we allow our eyes to relax, almost shutting if you want, to be just barely aware of light coming in. We take in the entire experience of seeing, noting everything in our field of vision, noticing what is “behind” the seen that is aware of seeing. Once we are completely immersed in seeing, we can add in hearing. Can I maintain my focus on seeing while also noticing the hum of the refrigerator, traffic noises, the ringing in my ears? Again, shifting to who or what is perceiving the sights and sounds helps me be able to immerse in both of them simultaneously. Then I can add in what is going on in the body, starting wi