Through listening to the teacher and the practice, we can develop an awareness that helps us not to be critical of ourselves and reality. Over time, it helps us to manage and contain negative emotions, feelings, and thoughts that can bring us suffering.
Mindfulness is a way of being in a wise relationship with life as it unfolds. The practice is helpful in discovering your regulatory abilities: it allows you to efficiently manage your attention, emotions, and thoughts. This in turn causes a reduction in stress and anxiety, an improvement in mood, and the ability to change certain automatic ways of reacting.
The practice can be done sitting or lying down. The only important criterion is that whatever posture you adopt, always allow your body to be as comfortable as possible, trying to remain alert and with dignity in your posture.
If you decide to practice sitting down, make yourself as comfortable as possible in your body. Raise your pelvis, place a meditation cushion under your buttocks to support your spine, and lift your pelvis above your knees. Sit towards the front of the pillow to tilt your pelvis forward (pubic bone towards the lumbar region), which will support the natural curvature of your spine. Over time, you will come to feel balanced and rooted effortlessly from the pelvis to the top of the head.
If you cannot adopt this position, you can always sit on a straight-backed chair. Always be aware of your hands, finger positions are traditionally called 'mudras', and each mudra has its own virtues. To begin, place your hands on top of your thighs near your knees, or in your lap, one on top of the other with your palms turned upwards.
If you decide to practice lying down, do it on a yoga mat and formulate the intention to stay awake because lying on your back for a period of time presents its own challenges. You can always put a bolster under your knees to release tension from your pelvis.
Some people find that lying on a flat surface for a long period of time can be uncomfortable for the lower back. Bending the knees and resting the feet on the floor can relieve much of the pressure. A slight retroversion of the pelvis can help release the back in Shavasana making the position more sustainable. Always be aware of your lying body, notice how the earth is supporting you, which parts of your body are most in contact with it, and also where you feel tension. It is recommended to stay light before practicing mindfulness, a meal that is too heavy can make you drowsy but eating nothing can make you feel too light, not rooted to the earth. Listen to your body, it is important to recognize what it is asking of you and it is part of the practice to listen and nourish yourself when your body needs it.
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