MindfulBiology is meant to be an experiential practice, not a mere exercise of intellect. The hope is that it will evolve into a collection of methods and perspectives to help us feel more at home in our lives.
Since the human drama plays out in human bodies, we feel ease and stability only to the extent we feel grounded in the organism that gives us form. When living ‘in our heads,’ we may think pleased and satisfied thoughts, but deeper down we feel angst and discontent.
Being grounded is not the same as being pain-free. Many of us suffer from conditions that feel uncomfortable: medical problems, emotional reactivity, residua of trauma, and so on. Luckily, one can relax into the body even in the face of physical ills, psychic turmoils, and stormy histories, a fact that the mindfulness movement—an outgrowth of Buddhism—has publicized in recent decades. With nonjudgmental awareness one can attain equanimity, so that one’s experience in life no longer determines one’s appreciation of life. Living is known to be a fascinating, kaleidoscopic, and enriching journey, whether it winds through gentle or rugged terrain.
Equanimity does not usually enter human experience uninvited. Although it may arise spontaneously near end of life, it is more often the result of introspective practice or religious worship. These days, information technology makes it easy for moderns to learn about meditative and contemplative traditions that were once isolated in far-flung corners of the world. (Though sadly, many regions are mired in too much poverty and oppression to afford these opportunities.) Options span the spectrum from traditional spiritualist to strict materialist, so there is truly something for everyone. This point was driven home when Sam Harris–a militant atheist with a background in neuroscience–published Waking Up, a book touting the value of mindfulness meditation.
MindfulBiology is a tool that can be used to support maturation within any tradition, or none. Believers in the Abrahamic God can use MindfulBiology practices to deepen their appreciation of God’s loving bond with humanity. Think of St. Paul’s words (Aramaic Bible in Plain English): “Do you not know that your body is the temple of The Spirit of Holiness…?” New Age enthusiasts can adopt them to contact conscious energies in the body. Ethical humanists can employ MindfulBiology to feel, directly, the marvel of life. Pure materialists can find relaxation and ease by settling–with mindfulness deepened by scientific fact–into the body’s complex, ever-changing sensations. Regardless of belief systems, we can all gain ease and stability by seeking intimacy with our physical forms.
The body journeys offered here consist of three styles of meditation: image meditations, guided meditations and personal musings.
Image Meditations: Clicking here leads you to a sequence of sixteen images (which also appear on the home page) labelled with truths about the body. As a simple and brief meditation, I encourage visitors to watch the slides come and go, feeling the impact of the pictures and words.
Guided meditations: These link to audio files along with text descriptions; visitors can either listen to my voice or make their own recordings. The aim of these meditations is to encourage appreciation and gratitude for the body, and to help us build more fertile mind-body relationships.
Personal Meditations: These essays reflect on my own experience of having a body. I realize that intimate descriptions of life in a body may sound exhibitionist, and that some readers may respond with distaste. If you feel affected that way, I’d suggest skipping this material. However, others might find it helpful to read specific examples of how the practices work in one person’s direct experience. Since I live with chronic pain and have suffered a number of distressing health conditions, these personal stories will offer reassurance that MindfulBiology leads toward equanimity even in the face of substantial challenges.
MindfulBiology meditations will be of greatest value if they are combined with practices to settle the mind, whether meditative, contemplative, or philosophical. It is also important to incorporate movement into this work, such as yoga, Qi Gong, dance, walking in nature, running or swimming, etc.
(Please note that for the time being, I retain copyright to these works. Among other reasons, I hope to compile some of the text into a manuscript for publication. If you would like to share my site’s material with others, I ask that you do so via links back to MindfulBiology.org. Thank you.)