Mindfulness meditation part 3: The practice


Today we wrap-up our three part mini-series on mindfulness meditation with some additional hints to help mindfulness work for you.

This quote summarizes the philosophy of mindfulness:  When you are mindful…You become keenly aware of yourself and your surroundings, but you simply observe these things as they are. You are aware of your own thoughts and feelings, but you do not react to them….By not labeling or judging the events and circumstances taking place around you, you are freed from your normal tendency to react to them.

Some hints on how to do it

Find a quiet and comfortable place. Remove your shoes, sit in a chair or on the floor, with your neck and back straight but not stiff

Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and future and stay with the present.

Become aware of the in- and out of your breathing at the level of your nostrils…just pay attention to your breathing.

While focusing on your breathing, other thoughts and worries will surely arise in your mind, but don’t try to suppress them or ignore them. Just note that they are there, but return, as effortlessly as you can, to your inhalations and exhalations.

Make the environment as calming as possible. Dim the lights and even light a couple candles if that will help you.

At the beginning, try “sitting” for five minutes at a time (set a soft alarm), and over a few weeks or months, slowly increase the time to 30 to 40 minutes if you can. But even if you can only stay with five minutes a day, you will benefit over time.

Its simple, but not easy to keep your mind focused on your breathing, so don’t be critical of yourself. Do the best you can, and it will get easier over time. That is why meditation is called a “practice”.

Get some help

You can become accomplished in meditation all by yourself, but it’s even better if you can find either a course, a weekend retreat, or a personal teacher to help you. Just like in a sport like tennis or running, you can do it all yourself, but if you have a trainer or coach, you will learn faster.

Don’t be afraid to form a group or join a group of people to meditate together. Just make sure you only find people who can be quiet and not talk during the mediation “sittings”.

If you can’t do it

If you find you just can’t do it, that is a good time to seek out a course or teacher, but even then, some people just don’t like it, or their home situation just doesn’t permit it. In that case, you might find that you can become “mindful”—focused only on the present, your breathing—while you go jogging or biking or even gardening or just walking.

Find moments even when you are cooking, or cleaning, or making bread and see if you can just “stay in the moment”…the present…these moments can be mini-meditations too.

And if even that seems impossible for now, at a minimum, every day, find a quiet place away from anyone talking to you—or the need to talk to anyone— put your phone away and just sit or lie in the quietest place you can find, for 10 minutes per day. The important thing is to allow your brain to “reset”.

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