Irish Times Interview “Meditation Stress Test”

Irish Times

Meditation Stress Test: Exercise for Mind, Body & Heart

By Sylvia Thompson
Published April 28th, 2015

People are drawn to meditation courses as a skills training for the mind that is not tied to a belief system. I teach three skills of meditation: focus/concentration; being present in and having perspective on your experience; and being compassionate towards yourself and others. I have a friend who said that from a young age, he was elevated by the Christian message ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, but didn’t know how to do it. These methods help with the ‘how’ without joining a sect or belief and value system.

Just as you go to the gym for your body, these are exercises for the mind, spirit and heart.

Photo by Dzogchen Beara Meditation Retreat Centre

Even in meditation, the mind wanders but what we’re learning is to let go of distraction. If you blame yourself for not doing this, that holds you back. Having compassion for ourselves is a resilience skill that we can bring into our lives. We can’t choose what comes into our minds but we can be mindful enough not to let it lead to action and this skill of not reacting with, say, anger or violence is a form of empowerment in itself.

If we look at the nature of things, we live in an interconnected universe. I sometimes ask people, ‘how many other people need to do their job well for you to do your job well?’ The less we admit that, the more isolated or wrong-thinking we are. Although we have to make our way as individuals, we are interconnected and everything from economics to epidemiology to environmental consciousness shows us that.

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Featured photo by Dzogchen Beara Meditation Retreat Centre

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