Bridging the Heart and Mind – The Practice of Stopping and Returning

Many of the World's Wisdom Traditions promote meditation as a method of staying in contact with our actual life experience, as it's happening, with attention and awareness.

One of the reasons this is so valuable is because our minds are generally not very accurate about our experience. Our thinking minds will often create stories and imaginings about our experience that are inaccurate and distorted. These stories and imagining are often a source of suffering, because we feel stress, tension and frustration from them. The mind can be unkind, and when our attention gets cooked up in the mind we can suffer from the painful thoughts we have.

Also, just as important, when our attention is lost in our thoughts, we became disconnected from our heart, which means we lose touch with our basic goodness and our natural wisdom. When our attention is in our thoughts, we can lose track of the bigger picture and our deepest gifts that come from the heart.

For instance, as a nurse I work on a wonderful Continuing Care Unit in Rimbey. I am surrounded by amazing and beautiful older people who look to me for help, comfort and support.

As a Nurse, another part of my job is a to do a lot of writing, recording and physical tasks that can take me away from my time with the residents there.

Add to this the fact that often times things do not go at all as planned. Unexpected situations arise that take me away from my opportunity to provide comfort and care. Sometimes residents become unhappy with how things are, and they let me know in a variety of colorful and interesting ways. This can also be a source of stress, tension and frustration.

It is easy for me to imagine that "things are not as they should be", which adds further stress, tension and frustration. My residents are unhappy. I am unhappy. What to do?

One way of working with this situation is to use the stress, tension, and frustration as a 'Wake Up Call' informing us that something is wrong, our attention has wandered and we are no longer connected to the heart. This means that as soon as we notice our suffering, we STOP and RETURN to our real and true experience in that exact moment.

Stop thinking. Return attention to our breathing.
Stop imagining. Return attention to our experience.
Stop allowing attention to 'sleep' in the head space.
Wake up and Return attention to the heart space.
Stop living with attention in thought and imagination,
Return attention to our breathing, our experience and our heart.

Any time we Stop and Return, two great benefits can occur.
1. We can Stop causing ourselves pain and suffering with our thoughts (get out of the head space).
2. We can Return to a simple appreciation and gratitude for being alive right this moment now (get into the heart space).

This means we decrease our suffering and increase our enjoyment at the same time.

Today, right now, stop what you're doing. Just Stop and Return to the present moment. Just for this moment, listen to yourself breathe. Feel your body. Watch yourself take deeper breaths and enter the space of the heart. Stopping and Returning means just that. It means when we realize we are suffering because we are listening to the chatter of the busy mind, we Stop and Return our attention to the heart space and the present moment ..

It's valuable to have designated times to practice Stopping and Returning. One of my favorite times is when I first wake up in the morning and my mind starts racing ahead of me and into the future. When this happens I Stop and Return to what I know is real: my actual experience of laying in bed. Showering, eating, hugging and walking are some of my other favorite times to remember to Stop and Return.

Decide that six times today (and every day) you will Stop whatever you are doing and return to the heart space and present moment for 10 seconds. That's 60 seconds total. One minute of your life you will dedicate to practicing this exercise that can make all the difference between living in a place of stress, tension, and frustration, or in our heart where our basic goodness and wisdom has a chance to shine

This is Stopping and Returning Meditation. It takes one minute a day. Sixty seconds, in six short sessions of 10 seconds each. Six moments in which you may stop and return your attention to your heart, where your basic goodness and wisdom comes from.