Tag Archives: how to do meditation

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to things as they are.  Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness is the energy that helps us acknowledge the conditions of happiness that are already existing in our lives. We don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of our daily lives. Mindfulness is when we are truly there, mind and body together. We breathe in and out mindfully, and we bring our mind back to our body. When our mind is there with our body, we become settled in the present moment. Then we are able to identify the many aspects of happiness that are in us and around us, and happiness just comes naturally.

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu

Practicing mindfulness enable us to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don’t necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being dependent on them. It helps us to take in the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental gabble. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we become enlightened to be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.

“Refuge to the man is the mind, refuge to the mind is mindfulness” – Buddha

In this busy, hyper and connected world, we spend so much of our days lost in thought, rushing around from one activity to another, and often trying to do several different things at the same time. We often fail to notice the beauty of life, lose our connection with the present moment. And we all too often miss out on what we are doing, how we are feeling and what our bodies are telling us. We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we become.

With mindfulness, we have the chance to really slow down and appreciate everyday activities with new eyes, new senses. By learning and practicing mindfulness and deep meditation we gain the power of familiarizing ourselves with our thoughts and our patterns, and we can shift our thoughts away from our usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. In other words, the more mindful you are the happier you are.

In order to get the best results by practicing mindfulness and deep meditation, our mind has to be relaxed and free from all worries about past and future.  We can learn relaxation techniques to help us managing stress and teaching us how to quiet our mind.

One simple way to start practicing mindfulness, is to concentrate on our breathing without trying to change it. We just focus on our breath coming into and leaving our body. As we practice this, our mind might wander, but we can gently, without any judgement bring our focus back on our breathing again. As we begin to feel success with this task, we may wish to extend our focus to sensations we feel in our body, without judgment or trying to change these sensations. And then we can apply this practice to sounds that we hear in our environment. There are many guided mindfulness meditations online that can assist us in learning and practicing, and soon, we will experience the benefits of mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life” – Marcus Aurelius

 In addition to formal meditation, we can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing our attention on our moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. Whether we are doing the dishes, flossing our teeth, waiting at the traffic lights or going for our morning walk, we may slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of our senses.  Any routine activity can be made into a mindfulness practice when we bring our full attention to it.

Mindfulness improves physical health:

  • Help relieve stress
  • Treat heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Improve sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

Mindfulness improves mental health:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Mindfulness can literally transform our entire world from the inside out. It may help us discover the feelings of fulfilment, peace and wholeness which have been within us all along. To find fulfilment and meaning in life, we need to learn how to really experience the moment and then go deeper into ourselves, and ask questions like “What is important to us, what makes us fulfilled and what do we want to do in our life?”. We need to take time away from our busy lives and allow ourselves to reflect, experience and make sense of our life.

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”– Thich Nhat Hanh


Meditation

Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are consciously relaxed and focused.  Practitioners of this art report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life.

Meditation is most commonly associated with monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines.  However, you don’t have to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits.  And you don’t even have to be in a special place to practice it.  You could even try it in your own living room!

Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same.  The most important among these principles is that of removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus.  This clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a higher quality of activity.

The negative thoughts you have – those of noisy neighbours, bossy officemates, that parking ticket you got, and unwanted spam– are said to contribute to the ‘polluting’ of the mind, and shutting them out is allows for the ‘cleansing’ of the mind so that it may focus on deeper, more meaningful thoughts.

Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input – no sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch – and try to detach themselves from the commotion around them.  You may now focus on a deep, profound thought if this is your goal.  It may seem deafening at first, since we are all too accustomed to constantly hearing and seeing things, but as you continue this exercise you will find yourself becoming more aware of everything around you.

If you find the meditating positions you see on television threatening – those with impossibly arched backs, and painful-looking contortions – you need not worry.  The principle here is to be in a comfortable position conducive to concentration.  This may be while sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and even walking.

If the position allows you to relax and focus, then that would be a good starting point.  While sitting or standing, the back should be straight, but not tense or tight.  In other positions, the only no-no is slouching and falling asleep.

Loose, comfortable clothes help a lot in the process since tight fitting clothes have a tendency to choke you up and make you feel tense.

The place you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere.  It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or any place that you feel comfortable in.  You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the contortionist in you is screaming for release).  You may want to have the place arranged so that it is soothing to your senses.

Silence helps most people relax and meditate, so you may want a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the phone or the humming of the washing machine.  Pleasing scents also help in that regard, so stocking up on aromatic candles isn’t such a bad idea either.

The monks you see on television making those monotonous sounds are actually performing their mantra.  This, in simple terms, is a short creed, a simple sound which, for these practitioners, holds a mystic value.

You do not need to perform such; however, it would pay to note that focusing on repeated actions such as breathing, and humming help the practitioner enter a higher state of consciousness.

The principle here is focus.  You could also try focusing on a certain object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight.

One sample routine would be to – while in a meditative state – silently name every part of your body and focusing your consciousness on that part. While doing this you should be aware of any tension on any part of your body.  Mentally visualize releasing this tension.  It works wonders.

In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort – remember we’re relaxing).

Studies have shown that meditation does bring about beneficial physiologic effects to the body.  And there has been a growing consensus in the medical community to further study the effects of such.  So in the near future, who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation might become a science itself!

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.” – Mahatma Gandhi