A Mindfulness Practice to Shift Out of “Doing” Mode!
What is meditation?
Meditation isn’t something new or on trend. People have been practising mediation for thousands and thousands of years and there is a misconception about what it really is. When you hear the word “meditation”, do you think of a monk on top of the mountain in a lotus position staring at the horizon? In reality, you don’t need to be on top of a mountain and everyone can do it, no matter what time it is, no matter where you are, and no matter what your goal is.
"Thinking is compulsive: you can’t stop, or so it seems. It is also addictive: you don’t even want to stop, at least not until the suffering generated by the continuous mental noise becomes unbearable." Eckhart Tolle
Let’s do a little practice:
Take a paper (or a notebook to keep track) and a pen, set up a timer at 5 minutes on your phone, and write down every thought that goes into your mind during those five minutes. Do not try to correct your thoughts, just write them down as they are. At the end, you could even count how many positive and negative thoughts went through your mind. I tend to do this exercise every beginning of the month to analyse my progress on self-love, and to track the progress in my journey of positive thinking, and how long it takes me to be focused. You will realise that month after month you will have less thoughts and enter your state of meditation pretty quickly.
Did you stop thinking during those five minutes? Unless you have been practising meditation for quite some time, it is hard to stop thinking.
Meditation has so many benefits that help you in your journey to happiness, self-love and “be water”. Meditation increases compassion, the immune function of the body, the control of your emotions, your ability to focus and the presence of positive emotions. It reduces anxiety, stress, pain, depression and the sensation of loneliness.
Meditation will help you to pause and slow down the abundance of thoughts in your head, especially the negative ones, and bring you to a state of calm and serenity where you will be able to think, but peacefully and constructively.
If you can control the amount of thoughts and the speed at which they reach your conscious, you can take control of them and anticipate your body responses such as anxiety, stress and pain, and turn off your thoughts like a switch. And if you can turn off the negative thoughts, you will reach a state of serenity and peace with yourself and the present moment. You will stop spending time trying to fight your negative thoughts and will be more involved with the real world. You will finally see how beautiful life is, how lucky you are to be surrounded by Mother Nature with those colourful trees, the lovely melody of the birds, how beautiful flowers can be, how great it is to breathe in the fresh air in the morning when you open your windows…
How to meditate?
The essence of meditation is full awareness. It means you are conscious of what you are thinking, feeling, eating, or breathing. It’s being aware of the present moment, the sensations, the feelings, and be at peace with what’s happening in and out. You have nothing to do to be in a state of meditation, you just have to be.
There are many ways to meditate, and it is such a personal thing that I cannot tell you which technique is best for you. You will need to try all the methods available to find the one that works for you.
We will only focus on two of the techniques that have been used for centuries: mindful/focused meditation and open-monitoring meditation.
Mindful/focused meditation is one of the most used meditation type in the world. It consists on focusing on one specific thing, internal or external such as:
A body part: a specific area or a sensation in the body
Visualisation: focusing on your goals, experiencing your new life after reaching that goal, picturing yourself walking in the forest or near the ocean.
A mantra: repeating a phrase or a sound over and over
Counting mala beads: A mala is used to aid counting and focusing on the repetitions of Mantras. It’s commonly used in Buddhism and Hinduism.
A candle: focusing on the flam is one of the best tool for people who can’t focus.
Open-monitoring meditation is the opposite of focused meditation. You pay attention to all the things happening around you without reacting. While meditating, you witness your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, the smells and sounds around you. No judgment is to be observed, everything is perceived as it is.
Let’s do a little bit of practice!
Find a place where you know no one is going to interrupt you in your meditation: it can be your bedroom, your sofa, in a forest, a park, your car… anywhere. If it’s your first time, you can meditate with a relaxing music such as sounds of the forest, birds, waves, or the use of a Tibetan bowl.
Start by taking a deep breath, hold for six seconds, and breath out for six seconds. Focus on your breathing, on the air coming in and out. Repeat this as many times as you need to slow down your heart rate. Take your time, this is your moment with yourself, and focus on your breathing at all times. You can observe the reactions of your body, feel your pulse, your muscles that are being more and more relaxed. You are in a state of meditation. If you have thoughts that pop out, let them in, don’t fight them, and focus on the music, focus on your breathing or use the gong to go back to your state of awareness. This is mindful/focused meditation.
Sit down in a comfortable position, take a deep breath, hold for six seconds, and breath out for six seconds. Repeat for 10 times focusing only on your breathing. Now open your mind and be aware of the environment you are in. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the air touching your skin, detect the smells around you, feel your pulse, listen to your body, observe your thoughts. Do no try to control or judge what comes and goes. Just observe and be open to the now. This is open-monitoring meditation.
When you start meditating, it is important to go step by step. Don’t be discouraged by your first meditations. It takes time to get used to it and to just be. Practice meditation daily. Always start with 2 minutes and add 5 minutes each week, until you find the time that suits you best. It can be 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, or even more. You decide. Always remember to start small, in order to create a habit and not be discouraged by the task.
I hope this article was helpful and that I have encouraged you to practice meditation. Join more than 3500 positive thinkers and subscribe to the positive movement.
And as always, Be Kind To One Another, Including Yourself.