Last week, I talked about negative emotions and how if we don’t process them, they don’t just go away. They get stored in our bodies and can lead to physiological and emotional distress. Mindfulness meditation is one method for helping us to process these emotions and ultimately release them.
We associate mindfulness and meditation with the ancient practice of Buddhism because that is the root of today’s evidence-based mindfulness practices. By stripping away all of the religious and spiritual components of meditation, mindfulness became palatable to western civilization and allowed the practice to flourish. But those deeper, more spiritual-based practices incorporate our entire systems, mind, body and soul, which expands our ability to heal our issues, enhance our physical health and improve our overall well-being.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, you can experience ancient Eastern practices that are powerful in tapping into our individual energies and benefit from the results. Some examples of this are T’ai Chi, Qigong, tapping and yoga. What all of these practices have in common is that they shift our energetic system by altering our meridian channels.
We are energetic beings. Like everything in the universe, we are made up of energy. We can’t see it with the naked eye, just as we can’t see the energy that is emitted from radio waves or microwaves, or the energy being transmitted that allows us to talk on smart phones to anyone across the globe. But it’s there and it runs through meridians or channels in our bodies. It is the meridians that acupuncture taps into with tiny needles. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that negative emotions that get stored in our bodies create what could be considered a clog in our meridian lines. The energy-based practices clear the lines or release the negative emotions.
The Chinese refer to our life energy force as chi. Chi is an active principle forming part of any living thing and is frequently translated as “natural energy” or “energy flow.” Chi is the central underlying principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine and martial arts. Similar concepts can be found in many cultures, such as prana in the Hindu religion, pneuma in ancient Greece, Ki in Japan, mana in Hawaii, lüng in Tibetan Buddhism, ruah in Hebrew culture and subtle energy in Western philosophy.
While this is certainly outside of the purview of scientifically based mindfulness practice, all of these energy methods require mindfulness because they involve paying acute attention to the mind-body connection. For those who do not respond well to a sitting meditation focusing on the breath or observing thoughts, this is an alternative route to going within and not only clearing out negative emotions but enhancing health and well-being.
I recently spoke with Nate Rifkin, who has prospered by combining ancient mystical practices with modern strategies for living. As a spiritual explorer, he dedicates himself to the Daoist mystical tradition. His new book, The Standing Meditation, describes his journey from being suicidal to succeeding in life and business.
I encourage you to mindfully experiment with various forms of mind-body practices. They can deepen your mindfulness practice and they can also provide an alternative for those who are uncomfortable with traditional sitting meditations. However you choose to build your mindfulness skills, remember that any practice you choose will enhance your well-being as long as you do it consistently.