I hope you enjoyed part 1 of Meditation & Mindfulness: Life Changing – Steps to Begin(Remember).
These posts touch on Meditation and Mindfulness and are from perspectives I have experienced that obviously contain universal principles and truths as well as my own experiences.
I hope they resound with many of you out there and add value to your lives.
So, following on as mentioned with “part 2”, which is the “Action Plan” to practicing Meditation & Mindfulness…
Practicing meditation and mindfulness, should be from a state of “non-striving and “non-doing”. This is important.
We are not looking to “gain” or “achieve” anything but more so to realise, discover and to be “with” ourselves, so to speak – as We Are in the present moment. The truly life changing “bi-products” or “fruits” come naturally from being mindful and practicing meditation.
Practising from “non-striving” and to not “gain” anything I am sure sounds totally contradictory. I actually remember in my early days of practising “formal”(set time and place)meditation and getting angry(sweating due to this)and impatient. I wanted things to be as I wanted them and that included practising the “perfect” meditation…
As I said, I was not born a “Zen Guru”, far from it ha ha. But, we are no different from attaining(realising) this “state” or as mentioned “realising” our inner peace and wisdom as some of these “guru’s” have.
Meditation and being mindful is about being PRESENT and so “observing” whatever is going on moment to moment as this IS what is actually going on. Trying to change things only creates more tension. We naturally find our inherent peace and our gifts by purely observing our thoughts and emotions as stated. Why? As mentioned we are “uncovering” and we are “whole” already. We need to practice with this as the backdrop.
Another facet to meditation and mindfulness as mentioned before, is about being aware of our constant delving into the past and the future which creates anxiety and/or depression.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
Acceptance is a big part of meditation and mindfulness. I am not meaning to surrender and give up with no power to change things but acceptance in terms of what I mentioned before, of accepting things as they are now…in the present.
Non-judging is also a big part too. This relates to ourselves. Remember, we are “practising”, so it is a life journey but you will see and feel the benefits very early on too. So when I say non-judging, I mean – be kind to yourself as there is NO perfect meditation.
Try and refrain from “labelling” what we think are “good” or “bad” for us as these can be very subjective or ingrained from the past and so not always accurate at all.
Recommended is 20 mins per day(5-6 days a week, everyday being optimum)for “formal meditation”. Maybe start with 10-15mins to begin with if you feel 20mins is a stretch at first and 4 days a week and go from there. We are not practising forcefulness but some form of discipline will be beneficial.
Find a quiet place and use a meditation cushion(zafu), sitting cross legged with hands in lap or palms open, resting on your knees. You can use a chair too(feet firmly placed on the floor)but I do prefer sitting on the floor. With both practises, make sure your back is quite straight and shoulders relaxed – we want to encourage alertness but also peacefulness.
The most common way and “ideal”, is to then place your focus on your breath. This means to follow your breath flowing in and out of your body, either through your nostrils or at your belly. This does not mean to “think” about your breathing or change it but to focus, watch and feel your breath coming in and going out of these regions.
When your mind wonders, which it will do, just softly bring your focus back to the breath. As many times as your mind wonders, is as many times you bring your focus back to the breath. I have found it takes a few minutes to settle and get into a “flow” and/or deep meditation but as mentioned each practice is different and so pressure to meditate “perfectly” is counter productive.
My “std” formal meditation practices goes more or less like this:
•Sit and take a few deep breaths in and out.
•I say a prayer to God and the Holy Spirit for guidance – not necessary.
•Brief body scan, which is simply “scanning” your body from head to toe, getting a general feel and “noting” any bodily sensations without lingering or dwelling on them. This should not take more than a minute. Feel the your body being “grounded”.
•Brief awareness of any sounds. Not searching for sounds but just being aware.
•Note any strong feelings and/or emotions – again just noting them briefly.
•Begin focus on breath
•When the mind wonders, bring your awareness/focus softly back to the breath.
–Formal meditation practice is basically a set time and place, mostly daily.
–Informal meditation or mindfulness is performed throughout the day i.e walking, doing the dishes, working – being present and aware basically with what you are doing. Bringing oneself back to the breath is one of the best practices to do.
“Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn
Some resources that set me on the path were:
•Headspace(Andy Puddicombe) – Mobile(Android or iPhone Play store)Application – truly a great app and place to start and assist with formal and informal meditation for all different applications.
•Mindfulness for Beginners – Jon kabat-Zinn
Note: I hope this has been informative and encouraging to read and a place to either start or continue your meditative and mindfulness journey and practices.
Please let this information sink in and do apply what you have read in a non-striving and enjoyable way but do not get fixated or regimental in doing so but discipline however will go a long way.
Sometimes there will be discomfort experienced while practising – this is totally natural and the path you are on.
Enjoy and be kind to yourself.