We missed the anniversary, but Wildmind’s blog is now ten years old. Perhaps we should provide a list of the 10 most popular posts of the last decade, but that’s kind of unfair to our more recent work, since something written several years ago has had much more time to garner page views. So instead here, in reverse order, are the most popular articles on meditation that have been posted in the last 12 months.
10. Self-compassion is not self-indulgent
We might imagine that when faced with doing something difficult, being “kind” to ourselves means that we’ll let ourselves off the hook. But that’s the opposite of what actually happens. Self-compassion means giving yourself support, understanding, and encouragement when you face difficult experiences. It helps you to face your difficulties.
9. The body-wide wave of breathing
Focusing on just a small area of the breathing just doesn’t give the mind enough to do, and because the mind doesn’t like being under-occupied it invents distractions for itself. When we pay attention to many different sensations the mind has plenty to do, is less likely to go wandering, and is more engaged and absorbed.
8. Fully embracing this present moment
Our mental reactions are attempts to escape or fix unpleasant situations. It seems counter-intuitive to turn toward painful feelings. But turning toward our suffering reduces our suffering.
7. The eyes have it
When the eyes are more relaxed in meditation, we’re able to take in the whole “scene” of our breathing. This is a far richer experience, not just because there are more sensations to pay attention to, but because we can see the connections between various sensations. For example we can see how sensations in the abdomen relate to sensations in the nostrils, and how those relate to the sensations in the back. Our experience is revealed as dynamic, interconnected, and even sensual.
6. Happy new breath
A whole lifetime passes in each breathing moment. What we do in each moment impacts the next. With every inhale there is an exhale until the last breathing moment. The past connects to the present, and the present connects to the future. Just like the inhale and exhale. By having awareness of every breathing moment we can impact this flow of reality.
5. When in doubt, breathe out – the power of breathing properly
Make a fist with one hand. Notice what’s happened to your breathing. You’ll probably notice you’re holding it. Now imagine breathing into the fist. What does it want to do? You’ll probably find it wants to release a little. The fist in this exercise is a metaphor for any kind of discomfort or stress. When we are not aware, we automatically tense against the stresses of life with associated breath holding.
4. Let the breathing observe you
You can be aware of the body as a living, breathing, animal presence — a presence that has its own intelligence and awareness. And just as you are aware of the body, the body is aware of you. Allow yourself to be seen.
3. The power of gratitude
When we start to notice, acknowledge, and appreciate what’s going right in our lives we feel much happier. In fact psychologists say that being grateful and appreciative is one of the main things we can do to be happier in life. I read about one study in which participants were asked to spend 30 minutes writing a letter of appreciation to someone who had benefited them. The scientists conducting the study found that people who did this exercise were measurably happier a month later.
2. How to calm your mind, quickly and easily
We can use our attention in two ways: either as a flashlight or as a candle. Which we choose makes a radical difference to the quality of our experience, both in meditation and in daily life.
1. The most important thing you need to know about life, according to Buddhism
Arguably the central teaching of Buddhism, without which the others make no sense, is that things change. While “things change” may seem like a commonplace observation, made by dozens (at least) of philosophers and religious teachers over the last few millennia, the Buddha wasn’t content simply to pay lip-service to the concept of impermanence, but followed through the implications of this fact as far as he possibly could.
So there you have it: the ten most popular articles published on Wildmind in 2017. I hope you enjoy these highlights, and that you’ll benefit from what we bring you in 2018. Thanks for reading!