Meditation & Mindfulness #2: Steps to Begin(Remember)

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

Action Plan:

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.

“If you’re breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn

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.
•Close eyes
•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.

 

Meditation & Mindfulness #1: Steps to Begin(Remember)

I cannot recommend Meditation/Mindfulness enough.

I have already stated this in the “About” section and I will say it yet again – I cannot recommend it anymore, for EVERYONE and for ALL facets of life.

The interesting part is that we have all meditated or been mindful at some point in our lives. We just need to uncover/discover/remember our innate abilities, natural gifts and peace within. If you look at the definition of “discover” for instance, this means to “bring to light” or “come across”, so in essence, that which is already there.

Very loosely, mindfulness is “paying attention” in the present moment, of which the practice of meditation will strengthen. I am sure we have all focussed our attention/awareness on something  before, have we not..?

We need to now “cultivate”, practice or more accurately –  “remember” as mentioned before, our intrinsic nature of consciousness and awareness, of which I believe we as a people throughout time, generally speaking have lost or “forgotten.”

I remember someone saying to me, “I can’t meditate as I can’t just think of nothing, let alone sit still for that long.” To which I wanted to say…actually I wanted shout (ha ha), “Believe me when I say, if I can “do” it, then anybody can!” I think I ended up saying something calmly along the lines of, “It’s not about stopping your thinking but more about observing your thoughts.”

Our brains are constantly thinking –  that is what they are meant to do. But we don’t have to get caught up in every single thought. We think we do because thoughts are truly powerful. We need to remember, that WE are the “observers”.

The practice of meditation and mindfulness will allow us to watch these thoughts and emotions come and go, like clouds in the sky, allowing us to stay seated in “awareness”. We are not our thoughts. We know this, as so many thoughts have come and gone in our lives that don’t mean anything to this day, have they not..?

But some thoughts and emotions(depending on how we process situations in life)we “cling” to and they stay with us for an indefinite time, until we “process” them and let them go.

The practice of meditation and mindfulness will help us in staying “present”, so we do not get caught up in every thought and emotion that happens to us, which can often “bog” us down in time. We can therefore maintain fresh eyes and deal effectively with each passing moment, without be “tainted” all the time by past and futures events which do not exist. Yes, we need to plan for the future and we do learn from the past naturally but dwelling on these is not living and not effective. I hope that makes sense.

Meditation & mindfulness has in the past had various connotations as being “out there”; “hippie”; “alternative” or whatever else it has been labelled. Nowadays, it is way more acceptable, not to mention growing in popularity or I would rather like to say, in recognition – we are all growing in consciousness.

Not to mention, how modern “medicine” and “science” are truly seeing the benefits and applications of practising. On this note, the practising of meditation on a regular basis will actually “rewire” your neurological pathways in a positive way.

We are the Observers

You can test this right now – Say “hello” in your mind. You have now just “witnessed”(subject), the object(“hello” – thought). You can do this for anything such as “something you need to do”, or kicking your toe, or even go so far as “fear”, which is also another object we are aware of. These subjects are not you, you are the “witness”.

When the penny drops and you actually are “aware” of this, it is truly amazing. I remember sitting and practising a meditation of “watching your thoughts”. This is truly amazing, especially when your brain has been very active after a long day or for other reasons. You can sit and watch totally unrelated thoughts come and go.

Meditation and Mindfulness will strengthen this. As mentioned, we can now stay more “centred” in the “seat of awareness” of which presence and peace are our true natures and accessible always. This allows us to witness life and its happennings come and go, without getting caught up in its melodrama and enjoy it more.

There is so much information on meditation and mindfulness nowadays and accessible through so many platforms via social media and the internet, which is truly awesome. Not to mention many “guru’s” and “experts” around the world which we have access too.

But, at the end of the day and without sounding cliche, these are all “pointers” to the true meditator and “observer”, which…is YOU.

So…back to why I felt myself almost shouting at this person who said he “can’t meditate”. The reason, is because for as long as I can remember, I have been quite “high” energy.  My wife would maybe even have said “very” high energy. High energy from both a physically and mental point of view – both connected, so no confusion there really. So for those who think they can’t sit still, then believe me when I say, if I can meditate, then so can you.

I have always been sporty/physical, always having to “do” something. In fact, still to this day, if I do not exercise for a day I can feel the energy building up – not as much but still so.

My mind on the other hand(as I mentioned in the “About” section), I realised I had lived a large portion of life in an anxious state. I could never sit still for a long time, from doing school homework, to anything else after school really – never being able to focus for long periods of time at all. Again, mind and body are connected and they have a bearing on each other – the mind directing the body mostly.

We are all “hardwired” differently for various reasons, from childbirth to upbringing, diet etc, giving us all our unique attributes and characteristics. Nonetheless, no matter who you are or where you come from, or how “balanced” you think you are, I believe we all should and need to “practice” meditation and being mindful.

I have also heard people say, “I don’t have the time.” To which I think the best answer to that is:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb

I think this makes absolute sense. The irony is that when you start meditating and being mindful, you actually start finding more “space” and life seems to “slow down” somewhat, giving you a better perspective to attend more efficiently and truthful to each situation and passing moment.

Through practising meditation, you become more “centred”, as mentioned a few times before. We therefore don’t need to act from a total emotional point of view and so able to see a little more clearly and not through frantic or anxious eyes.  This will enable you to apply yourself appropriately to what really is important and with the “ideal” course of action.

Until I started meditation, I  did not realise how it is so much “more” than what we realise and yet at the same time it can almost seem the most “useless ” or I should rather say, “indescribable” “action”(not that you really can call it an action)I know of. Those who meditate, know exactly what I am talking about.

Meditation can almost seem at times to touch on the answers to everything in life and the universe but yet it can seem like the most pointless thing too…truly profound.

I won’t go down this path in this post but I suppose my point being is that we are always generally operating or living our lives with the intent of “gaining” something, as we feel we “lack” and so by practising meditation and mindfulness will allow us to start seeing what we really do “have” in our lives already. This is just part of it.

“Meditation is really just quieting yourself enough so you can get in touch with your own inner wisdom. ~ Louise Hay

Meditation and mindfulness will provide answers beyond what you ever expected and as previously stated, touch on all facets of life but I believe the main focus for most of us, is finding peace.

When you have peace, what problems are there?

On a spiritual note, I do believe practising meditation and mindfulness can lead to God but I will write a separate post on this.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Note: Please see part two of this post to come, which includes a simple and brief action plan. Enjoy.