Posted inDharma, Henry's Messages

Message from Henry: Mindfulness and Self-Regulation

October 26, 2022

All spiritual traditions, in one way or another, seek ways to calm the heart and mind, usually by seeking a supernatural power. Mindfulness, coming from the Buddhist tradition, did away with the supernatural savior. Mindfulness meditation is completely human. We use our own human capacity to become aware of each moment.   

Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by inner turbulence, we struggle trying to change it or make it go away. But that doesn’t work. With mindfulness practice, over time, we learn to calm inner chaos. We allow the turbulence to be what is, without trying to change or fix it. We allow it to be.  Allowing is the key –  perhaps with a touch of nurturing love.

Mindfulness meditation has brought our understanding of the nervous system front and center. We have levers that when applied, regulate our nervous system. When we are anxious, angry, overwhelmed etc. we can draw on basic tools such as doing a simple breath practice, breathing slowly in and out, to dial down a reactive nervous system.  

There is also co-regulation, or connectivity.  Meditating together with other people is co-regulating. Attending a sitting group stimulates this co-regulation. Instead of suffering alone, we are connected to others whose experiences are similar. Eco-regulation involves going outside, experiencing the slower rhythms of the natural world, the majesty of mountains, the beauty of desert flowers, the vastness of the ocean.  

These mindful practices are far more effective regulators than more common and unhealthy habits such as drinking a glass of wine, binge eating, or scrolling our phone for an Instagram hit.  These many little distractions are attempts to self regulate. They work briefly but have addictive and harmful side effects. 

Learning to self regulate, to allow all things, offers a taste of liberation.

with love and gratitude,

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