Mindfulness meditation is a pretty big trend lately. And, rightly so! It is a great meditation ideal with many benefits. Plus, it can be done anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances.
Where to start with the benefits!? There are so many. Here are just a few: Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress, eliminate fear, help you sleep, help with weight loss, dispel negative feelings, reduce PTSD, curb loneliness, increase attention, help manage chronic pain, aid in depression and its return, reduce anxiety, improve physical health, increase well being and mental health, increase cognition, think faster and better, increase self control and more. It has even been shown to increase grey matter in the brain!
There are many different meditation techniques that can be called mindfulness meditation, most are included in this series of meditation techniques on this site. You can check this page with the listed meditation practices. The links to the page with the video and article will become live as the articles are written and posted with the videos.
The basic idea of mindfulness meditation is to simply be present. “Simply!” Much harder than it sounds! In fact, it can be the hardest thing to do consistently. The reason is, that for the most part, we humans run on autopilot most of the time. The only time we get jolted back to the moment is when something unexpected happens, sometimes not even then.
In fact, I’d estimate that at least 95 percent of the time we are not paying attention to ourselves and what we are doing. And, that is a very generous number, some people probably go days without really noticing themselves at all. So, if you are even a little awake during the day, you are way ahead of the rest in terms of being mindful.
Let’s do a quick experiment. Stop for a moment after you finish this paragraph. Simply sit (or whatever position you’re in) for a moment. Take a deep breath and relax. Notice yourself, what position you’re in, what you feel physically, your thoughts, your breath. Just ‘be’ for a moment without trying to do anything about it.
Did you feel more awake? Maybe like the lights being turned on for a moment. Being mindful and mindful meditation is just that simple. There are specific techniques that can help, but the basis of mindfulness is just that, being present with yourself.
As a practice, you can pick a sense organ and be present through it. For example, pay attention to what you see and nothing else. Stare at a scene near you and notice that you are seeing through your eyes. Let go of everything else and just see.
Normally, the sense organs pull us away from ourselves. They’ll latch onto any distraction, something they find pleasurable, and fixate on the desire and fulfilling it. True freedom is freedom from desire, and that can be had to a decent degree by simply being present.
Another example is the sense of touch. There is a lot more to touch than just the one sense. There is pressure, temperature, rough, smooth, itch, pain, tickle, vibration and more. Is it any wonder we can lose ourselves when we touch something desirable? Or wanting to touch?
For this exercise, pick something you can touch, something smooth or rough like a piece of wood or fabric. Close your eyes as you run your fingers over the surface and focus on really feeling what you are touching. Get yourself present with it so that there is nothing else but what you are feeling.
Take a moment to introspect and see how that went for you. Was it easier or harder than the eyes technique? Were you able to have no distraction at all? Did your body relax? How present were you? Noticing all these things while staying present with the sensations of touch is being mindful.
Most people will have at least some success at being mindful when meditating. Over time your ability will increase. The benefits make it a very worthwhile activity. And, it really isn’t that hard.Probably the hardest part is developing the habit.
You can do that by starting small and building up over time, even if you start with only a couple of minutes. Decide on the length of time that will work for you and stick with it for at least three weeks. That is how long it takes to develop a habit. After a few weeks you can increase the time by a small amount, a minute is perfect. At this point you will only need to practice for another ten days before you increase the time again.
Continue increasing the time by one minute every ten days until you reach a length of time that works with your life. If you’re really busy yout total time may be lower than someone that isn’t so busy.
After a year and a quarter you will have developed an amazing meditation practice. And, you will likely be noticing some results. People in your life will also likely notice that you are different.
There are a lot of different meditations you can practice, each has the potential to increase your mindfulness. Find one that suits you and stick with it and you will get results. It is likely that your life will change in ways you can’t imagine, all for the better of course.