When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place. “Bhagavad Gita”
The most common misconceptions people have about mindfulness meditation is that they feel the mind should be unwavering and empty from day 1. They believe that it should get rid of all emotions present. They feel it is all about being a monk and living in caves in the Himalayas. They believe we can immediately achieve a blissful state of mind.
The problem with that understanding is that many people get frustrated with the process of meditation. They feel they are doing it wrong because they keep having thoughts and they are trying to attain a “thoughtless” state.
This is where they decide that meditation is not for them.
Attaining thoughtless state, not getting attached to thoughts are all good goals but not expected to be attained in the early practice.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is the art of being with your thoughts, your breath, yourself, in the present moment.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the moment to moment experience without judgment. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment without judging if it is good or bad. The true purpose of mindfulness is to rid yourself of needless suffering.
Mindfulness is training for your mind in order to manage it instead of being managed by it.
How do you begin practicing mindfulness meditation?
The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to begin where you are. Mindfulness meditation is a skill that requires patience and practice.
Here are steps to begin your mindfulness meditation practice:
- Start slow and short time periods. I started with 5 minutes.
- Schedule a time period in the morning and evening or just one time in the day.
- Create a quiet spot in your office space, your backyard, your deck or any corner of your house that you feel comfortable sitting in.
- Make sure you have a comfortable pillow, or chair to sit on.
- Keep your back straight
- Choose one of the simple practices below and start practicing daily.
Beginner’s Mindfulness Meditation Practices that I Recommend:
- Three Things: Close your eyes and focus on what is around you. Notice three sensations. Notice three sounds. Notice three smells. Then open your eyes. Notice the first three things you see. Notice the first three colors.
- Body Scan: Lie or sit comfortably in a relaxed position. Close your eyes. Beginning with your toes and working up throughout your entire body, concentrate on any physical sensations and feelings you are experiencing. Notice any tightness, pain, discomfort, irritation, heat, cold. Once you have reached your head, work your way back down until you reach your toes again. Your job in this exercise is to simply pay attention and be aware of every sensation.
- Three Mindful Breaths: Close your eyes. Allow your spine to life and shoulders to soften. Begin by taking a gentle slow to inhale, resting your attention on the sensation of the air passing over your nostrils and filling your chest and abdomen. Notice the sensations in the body as the air passes back out. Rest for a moment and begin again. Repeat 3 times.
- Thought Watching: Close your eyes. Simple notice your thoughts. Avoid judging them. Let the thoughts arise and fall. It is your only duty to notice them. Try not to get carried away with them. If you get carried away with them, you will notice emotions arising. At that moment, bring yourself back to noticing thoughts. You may number the thoughts as they come and go to make it easier for yourself.
- 5-4-3-2-1: With open eyes, notice five things you can see. Say them loudly or silently in your head. Pause at each one of them and see them completely. Now close your eyes. Notice four things you can feel in the body. Note them to yourself loudly or silently. Now notice and name three things you can hear. Now note two things you can smell. Now finally notice the taste in your mouth. Slowly open your eyes.
Books on Mindfulness Meditation I recommend
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