I recently wrote a post on Mindfulness, explaining how to be more mindful in your day to day life and why I feel this is important. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it on my home page, scroll down on the right hand side and click on the ‘Spiritual’ category, and you will find the post called ‘Mindfulness, the first step in learning to meditate’. I suggest you read that one first to catch up before moving on.
This post is going to help you use your mindfulness practices to start learning to meditate. I say learning because this won’t just come to you overnight, it does take practice and it does take patience, but you get out of it what you put in. The rewards are plenty!
There are so many different types of meditation, I personally think that mindfulness meditation is the best place to start as this particular form is to help us be completely present and aware in the current moment. Other types of meditation can focus on relaxation, or to attain higher consciousness, but we are going to start simple.
Buddha taught us that the source of all suffering, is our attempt to escape from our experiences. Unfortunately we cannot breeze through life without having our fair share of painful or unpleasant experiences, so instead of trying to escape them we are practising mindfulness. This will teach us to stop trying to escape the pain of unpleasant moments, but instead to be fully present and accept whatever our current circumstance may be. When we are present and accepting we can then use our inner voice and our innate wisdom to direct us and make the right choices to heal and move forward with clarity and confidence.
Now not only is mindfulness teaching us to be present and to overcome the doom and gloom, it is also teaching us how to be fully present and experience the joys and the ups of life as well. When we are mindful, we learn how to show up in our own lives. Only when you start to practice will you realise how you have never really been here in the moment, too often our minds are wandering and because of this we miss what is happening right now. Life is like a river, always moving and always flowing, you cannot touch the same river twice and you cannot experience a moment twice, so mindfulness is teaching us to be here now.
Body Breath & Thoughts.
First of all you need to dedicate a space for meditating. This must be somewhere peaceful and quiet, somewhere you know you cannot be disturbed. If you want you can decorate your meditation space with objects you find peaceful or comforting, just nothing that will distract you. I personally choose to meditate on the floor of my bedroom, I have a small stand set up with spiritual objects such as elephant and Buddha statues, crystals, a few candles and incense sticks as well as my Ganesha tapestry in the room. If you do not like incense it might be a good idea to have a small bunch of lavender in your meditating space as this aids in relaxation.
Although I sit on the floor with my legs crossed and my hands resting on my knees, this is not necessary. You can sit on a chair, sit on the floor or on a cushion, just whatever is most comfortable for you. Just make sure that however you choose to sit you are not slumped over, make sure you have good posture but not too forced or rigid.
Now for this type of meditation there is no need to close your eyes, just let your gaze rest gently on the floor, or on your stand you have set up in front of you. However do not focus on anything specific, just let your eyes rest as if you were looking into the distance.
So now your set up and your eyes are gently gazing in front of you just begin to detach from all of the things going on in your life and bring your attention to your body and your environment. If you mind wanders away, just gently bring it back. Do not get frustrated, your mind will wander this is completely normal. Every time you realise your mind has drifted, just bring it back again to your body.
The next part of the practice is to just bring your attention to your breathing. Unlike other types of meditation you are not trying to change your breathing, there is no need for deep breathes or anything. Just breathe as normal and be aware of it, usually what will happen is when you focus on your breathing it will change slightly, don’t worry about it this can’t be helped it is just your body’s natural response. Now your focus is between your body and your breath.
This brings us to the final part of this meditation, working with your thoughts. Even as your focus is on your breath and body you will notice that thoughts arise. This is all you have known this far so this is natural, do not try and suppress your thoughts and do not get frustrated if you find your mind wandering, this is completely normal. Just practice letting go of these thoughts without judgement, let them flow in and when you notice your mind is drifting away to your plans or your memories or that tv show, just gently bring your focus back to your breath and body again. This will happen over and over, but remember the point of mindfulness meditation is NOT to clear your mind, but to work with your present moment experience. Just notice what happens.
How long should you practice?
If you are a beginner I recommend to start meditating for between 5 and 10 minutes. Do not try and overdo it at first as this is how you get overwhelmed, frustrated and bored. Just start small. Also so that you are not tempted to keep checking the clock to see how long you have left, set a quiet & gentle alarm for your chosen time in say in 10 minutes. Over time you can gradually increase by a few minutes when you feel you are ready.
The most powerful feeling is the moment you break through your wall. Love and light.