The purpose of this website, my book, and the Community Education course I teach at the College of Marin, is to teach people how to live a vibrant, meaningful life through the cultivation of self-empowerment and self-efficacy. In this monthly Q&A column, I post questions from students and from people who attend my presentations along with my answers.
Here is this month’s question:
QUESTION: Please say more about the need for MBEP and explain the difference between it and sitting meditation.
ANSWER: The Need for MBEP: Anyone who has maintained a long-term sitting meditation practice and/or a physical concentration practice knows that it is very challenging to practice while engaged in their daily activities. Those practices are most often performed in a special time and place at some point each day. It occurred to me that if I could create a practice set that was simple enough to infuse into normal daily activities such as walking, it would be possible to suffuse one’s entire day with the same degree of presence and aliveness that we often only experience during those periods of the day we normally set aside for formal sitting meditation, yoga, tai chi, or any other formal practice performed with focused concentration.
The primary goal of MBEP is to provide a dynamic, body-centered form of mindfulness practice, which consists of a very uncomplicated set of physical, concentration practices. As with the formal sitting forms of mindfulness practice, MBEP trains the mind-body to quiet all the useless mind chatter that we all experience throughout the day. However, the quieting of the mind chatter comes about by way of a different path in physical concentration practices than it does from vipassana.
Sitting mindfulness practice: In vipassana, the quieting of the mind chatter results from sitting still and observing the physical sensations of breathing. Alternatively, it may result from objectively observing all your thought processes without analyzing them and without getting caught up in them. You notice where your mind drifts off to, without any analyzing of the content. With that noticing, you immediately return your attention to following the breath or following whatever enters your mind.
Dynamic mindfulness practice: In MBEP, tai chi, chi gung, yoga, karate kata, and other physical, concentration practices, the quieting of the mind chatter results from intense focus on the various aspects of the physical practices. As in vipassana, you notice that your mind drifts off, but what is different in dynamic (concentration) mindfulness is that as soon as you notice your mind drifted off somewhere, you immediately return your attention to the physical practice, again without analyzing the nature of the mind chatter.
Calming the body serves to calm and center the mind, just as calming the mind serves to calm and center the body.
MBEP is intended to empower you with a set of body-centered, mindfulness-based skills, which are so rewarding to practice, that you will want to infuse this physical concentration practice set into almost every activity throughout the day, thereby creating an experience of living with a high level of aliveness, awareness, resilience, self-empowerment and self-efficacy.