Mindfulness Leading to Choiceless Awareness Meditation Practice for Deeper Peace & Relaxation

A free offering from the Loran Smith Center, Piedmont Athens Regional

All are welcome. This free session is Friday, October 9th from 6 – 7:00 p.m. – contact Mike Healy for questions or for the Zoom link mfhealy@bellsouth.net

The Essence of Mindfulness Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally (that is, suspending judgment). Another way to define mindfulness is to look at its components – Attention, Concentration, Awareness, and Compassion and its benefits.

Key Aspects – Mindfulness involves training in attention, awareness, concentration, and compassion: Attention – where you focus your mind; Concentration – the ability to stay focused on one object, one-pointedness. Awareness – another way of knowing that is non-cognitive, it is experiential. Awareness is the mind’s ability to know, in the present moment that is, not being caught up in thoughts of the future or thoughts of the past; to “be here, now.”

Mindfulness brings gentle, curious attention to whatever arises in mind and body as you rest in awareness. You just observe the sensations themselves, as they arise moment by moment with nothing added. As a result, you come to know and understand yourself in a deeper, experiential way. Compassion deepens as you come to understand the conditions of the present moment and as that understanding and compassion deepen for yourself, it is easier to extend compassion to others. Keep in mind, as with developing any art or skill, mindfulness requires practice and patience.

Mindfulness practice allows you to respond rather than react to stressful situations. Reactions are often automatic, unconscious, and habitual. Whereas responses are conscious choices arising from mindfulness – perception, appraisal, awareness of what is actually happening in the moment. This process results in not identifying as closely with your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, which in-turn loosens attachment to them, allowing space for conscious, often creative options or choices to surface.

Benefits of developing a mindfulness practice paying attention, both through formal and mindfulness in everyday activities allows you to:

Change your relationship to stress, anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, grief, etc.

  • See more clearly – with fewer perceptual filers
  • Be less reactive and more responsive – allowing space/time for conscious and creative choices
  • Gain insights- identifying skillful and unskillful patterns of behavior, speech, etc.,
  • Know yourself more deeply, fully
  • Open the door to inner wisdom
  • Develop a calm peacefulness/ a reservoir of peace and energy
  • Be more compassionate with self and others

In summary, to realize greater health and happiness personally and professionally

The Choiceless Awareness Practice

Choiceless Awareness practice is often introduced after or as part of a Mindfulness Meditation practice. It involves resting in awareness as mind-body phenomena arise and pass. Like Mindfulness Meditation, Choiceless Awareness Practice is simple but not always easy. First, state with the Mindfulness practice, starting with being mindful of the breath. This practice relaxes and calms the mind and body, strengthening concentration, collecting or unifying the mind. Once some level of tranquility is realized you observe other mind and body objects such as the sensations of the body, sounds, thoughts, and emotions. This is done in sequence, spending time with each object as taught the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshop. The aim of this part of the practice is to come to know the nature and qualities of the various sensations that we experience. At times, one tends to be caught up with the objects or cling to them. With practice, as an understanding of the impermanent nature of thoughts, emotions and body sensations deepen, we do not get as attached to or cling to these objects as often. The experience becomes more peaceful.

Then we move into Choiceless Awareness. In this practice, you let go of the structure of the meditation. That is, you allow the attention to naturally move to whatever object is arising. You watch the various mind and body objects arising, manifest, and passing away on its own. In other words, you are resting in awareness, simply watching the flow of mind and body objects, one after another, as they flow through consciousness. Remember, awareness is the knowing function of the mind before conceptualizing. We are no longer choosing which objects to bring your attention to. Simply observing them passing through awareness.

Awareness as used here, is simply the mind’s capacity to know. Objects are known at each “sense door” the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body sensations as well as the mind where thoughts and emotions are the objects that are known.

For example, the experience or flow of objects may “look” like this: your attention is drawn to noise, then a strong sensation in the body draws the mind’s attention to discomfort in the low back, and then perhaps a thought may draw the attention. As objects arise and pass, you simply watch them. With Choiceless Awareness, you are no longer inquiring into the nature and qualities of the objects as we did earlier in the Mindfulness practice.

However, if and when you are caught up in a thought stream with strong emotion for example, you can choose to ignore it, or you may need to investigate the object mindfully until it passes or no longer holds your interest. Then you can return to resting in awareness and enjoy the peace and stillness of the Choiceless Awareness practice.

Research on Mindfulness – MBSR is considered the “gold standard” for mindfulness studies. For peer reviewed journal articles on mindfulness research – visit goamra.org – the American Mindfulness Research Association.

Free, Online Mindfulness Practice Opportunities

Mindfulness Practice Evening is a Free Offering for the community – that meets the second Friday of each month from 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. We explore different aspects of mindfulness through discussions and practices. All are welcome – whether you are just curious about mindfulness and its benefits or have a regular practice. For more information and/or Zoom link, please contact Mike Healy at mfhealy@bellsouth.net

Dedicated Mindfulness Practitioners Group is a free offering for the community- that meets each Saturday from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. This is an opportunity to practice and discuss your mindfulness practice. Now offered online with Zoom. For more information and/or Zoom link, please contact Jasey Jones at jaseyjones@gmail.com

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) workshop provides guidelines and practices to reduce stress, anxiety – the suffering that we all experience in life. MBSR was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts. It is one of the most effective and researched stress reduction workshops available today. MBSR is taught and researched at US medical centers, universities, and elsewhere throughout the world. Research on MBSR is the “gold standard” for mindfulness – www.goamra.org The MBSR workshop is available online, live using Zoom – a free online platform. Call Mike Healy-706-248-8918

For information about the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop – individual sessions available live and online, please contact: mfhealy@bellsouth.net or call 706-248-8918 or visit www.MindfuLiving.Org

Additional Resources

Just One Thing – free Weekly Newsletter Simple practices for resilient happiness from Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Georgia Museum of Art – Free Morning Mindfulness Every other Friday at 9:30am for Morning Mindfulness via Zoom from the museum galleries.
Join a mindfulness instructor at the Georgia Museum of Art via Zoom to participate in free guided mindfulness meditation sessions, held every other Friday. Sessions include a variety of instructor-led meditation, movement and mindfulness techniques. No experience or special clothing is necessary. Register Online.

If you cannot make the scheduled Zoom meeting, check out previous Morning Mindfulness practices on the museum’s YouTube channel here.

A wide variety of Mindfulness Meditations with Tara Brach

Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshop at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School): Free Recorded Video Series on Mindfulness Meditation available at wisdom2conference.com/live

The Mindfulness Practice Evening is facilitated by Mike Healy, Ed.D., certified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction by the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and is a certified Integral Hatha Yoga instructor, RYT 200. For more information about individual Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or the next workshop, please visit: mindfuliving.org or email mfhealy@bellsouth.net or call 706-248-8918.