Most of the times, we don’t admit, even to ourselves, that life does not always live up to our expectations, with result to accumulate anxiety and become stressful. However, we can learn to relate to emotional and other challenging situations with balance and compassion, through meditation. Meditation is the practice of focusing our attention on a specific object. The object can be a word, a sound, a candle flame, our breath, parts of our body, our senses, our thoughts, the world around us – actually, we can meditate upon anythings.
Mindfulness however, goes a step further; it is paying attention without judgement in the here and now, no matter what our current situation is. We all have tried, unsuccessfully, to stop our thoughts. They are coming and passing always in the present moment, they arise in our mind like bubbles in boiling water. However, by taking a non-judgemental attitude towards them, we can investigate and accept them. The more mindful we are throughout our day, the easier it becomes to see our situations as they are, without being caught in negative thinking.
Mindfulness is beyond words, so to understand it better we can use metaphors. We practice mindfulness as if we were scientists, as if we live each experience for the first time. How many times have you really paid attention to you hand? How many times have you paid close attention to your breathing? Or how you eat? All these are more important for living than the mobiles, however we neglect them and we don’t give them the amount of appreciation they need for a harmonious life.
Types of awareness
Being mindful is to be aware on the here and now. However, there are times that we may want to have broad awareness, for example when we are walking in the nature; we want to experience everything, to see all the playful colors, the sun light as it pierces through leaves and branches. Other times we may need focused attention, for example when we drive in the dark while raining. And surely, there are times that we have to direct our attention inwards and see what is happening inside us, or direct our attention outwards at the environment we live in, or we could direct our attention to both.
The basic mindfulness technique is “notice X”, where X can be anything, memories, thoughts, sensations, sounds, a view from the window, even eating chocolate! Apart of noticing whatever it is we are noticing, we have to let go of our thoughts, that is to defuse from them. Also, we have to let our feeling be, we have to open up and accept them without judgments.
If you notice that your thoughts interrupt your mindfulness process all the time, don’t take is a bad sign, actually it is a good sign! It means that you are present and aware of the spontaneously arising of your thoughts. After all, mindfulness without interruptions would not be mindfulness. Mindfulness is to notice the interruptions and go back to your noticing object.
Mindfulness Breathing exercise
For the next few minutes notice your breathing on your nostrils, or at your rib cage, or at your abdomen. All of them are moving while we breath.
Sooner or later, you will notice that you are distracted by thoughts, which is absolutely normal. When this happens just acknowledge the interruption as if you nod your head to passing people. You acknowledge them and then you let them continue their journey. Same with this breathing exercise. Notice the presence of your intruding thought (or any other interruption) and let it be. Allow your thoughts to come and go as they please, while you keep your attention to your breathing. If boredom or anxiety arises, again, acknowledge it and return to your breathing. With practice you will become better on noticing your interruptions and on returning to your exercise.
At this page and under the Meditation Practice category, you can find various resources for meditation. If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sounds and Thoughts – guided meditation
…more will follow 🙂