What Is Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is an intriguing type of meditation and one I’ve had great pleasure in researching, learning and practicing. Mindfulness meditation can involve breathing practice, mental imagery, awareness of body and mind, and muscle and body relaxation.
But firstly, before you learn how to practice mindfulness meditation you need to understand what mindfulness actually is.
Table of Contents
- What Is Mindfulness Meditation
- A Mindfulness Meditation Definition
- A History Of Mindfulness Meditation
- The Major Benefit Of Mindfulness Meditation
- How Do I Learn Mindfulness Meditation?
- Mindfulness Meditation Techniques To Help Stop Your Wandering Mind While Meditating
- Breathing Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
- The True Essence Of Mindfulness Meditation
- A Daily Mindfulness Meditation Practice
Mindfulness is the art of being present, of living in the moment.
To be mindful is to pay attention, or to focus, or to hold something in mind. Mindfulness is a shift from automatic, reactive thought, to conscious, directed thought. Mindfulness is a way of learning how to relate directly to your life.
With this in mind you can see how mindfulness is pure grace an energy of belief, of trust and of undeniable faith in life itself.
Mindfulness is a quality of gentle presence. Mindfulness is your capacity to be present with what is going on here and now, without judgment or resistance, without interruption, distractions, or over analysing the moment. It is a willingness to experience without reservation what is happening in your life in the present. Mindfulness is the practice of the ultimate acceptance of who and what you are..today, NOW!
Do you so how powerful that is?
A Mindfulness Meditation Definition
To understand that the past and future can only affect you negatively if you allow it to. You see the past is great if you learn from it, acknowledge your achievements and successes. Enjoy them for there worth in your life without dismissing them as mere notches in your belt, souvenirs, trophies to gleam at but as moments to be cherished and used as references and guides for future paths to be travelled.
The future isn’t to be stressed about but to be looked upon as a welcome challenge, a stepping stone to bigger and better things to come…
Meditation is a technique that relaxes the body quickly and calms the mind. Meditation helps the body and mind work together through posture, by focusing the mind on the body to achieve a relaxed state. Meditation also manages thoughts while controlling the unwanted chatter of the mind.
Practicing mindfulness meditation allows you to turn your awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and to your physical presence. Feeling your bodily sensations and understanding it’s signals to better manage it.
Mindfulness is the art of becoming an observer, going with the flow, being aware of your feelings, your state of being and just observing, not judging, there’s no right or wrong, not trying to look for solutions but just being aware, experiencing…”an outsider looking in…”
By being the observer and not your judgemental self you are able to relax more, stay calm coping better with the stress of confusion, frustration and anger.
When you tend to “focus” your attention on the “negative” past you tend to get depressed or down on yourself if things didn’t go to your liking.
When you “live” for the future you tend to get “anxious” about the possibilities that may never ever eventuate.
You suffer, according to Buddhism, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with you but simply because you misunderstand the nature of reality.
A History Of Mindfulness Meditation
It’s interesting to note that mindfulness has a history stemming from various religions and traditions including Hinduism, Buddhism, yoga and meditation practices.
Mindfulness meditation though is an ancient Buddhist practice that has been adopted by our Western culture due to its favourable holistic benefits.
Mentally, physically and spiritually…
Mindfulness meditation practice is an offshoot of the Vipassana meditation of Buddhism where you are taught to be mindful (aware) of your emotions, thoughts, and how your body feels at any given moment in time.
Mindfulness philosophy is that wherever you focus your awareness, your attention, transformation and healing takes place.
Mindfulness uses breathing and meditation to calm your thoughts and feelings sufficiently enough to allow you to dig deeply within and find your own natural inner healing.
In today’s world life is seen as a problem to be solved rather than an experience to be lived. The search for answers takes places from everywhere but within, everywhere but at your own experiencing of life. Life today is thus lived like a yacht without a rudder in rough seas, “lost and disconnected”.
Mindfulness is about attention and awareness above all else and meditation is the exact tool that allows you to to go deep within to harness this awareness and attention to better understand who and what you are. To connect to your higher self internally so you can radiate that glow outwardly.
From the Buddhist perspective, our ordinary waking state of consciousness is seen as being severely limited and limiting, you live your life in a zombie state rather than being alive and awake to experience the world for what it is…
You are comatose to the real you and thus unable to reality for what it truly is.
Meditation helps you wake up from this slumber of routine and unconscious living, thereby making it possible for you to live your life to the full in a world of endless opportunities and possibilities.
Sages, yogis, and Zen masters have been delving down this path for thousands of years, it’s the secret to living a true and full life that western society has robbed us of.
Modern society has robbed us of our birthright, the sacred knowledge that they don’t want the ordinary folks to know or perfect.
But hopefully the tide is changing and the more people that get on board the greater the world will vibrate and resonate at a frequency we all can enjoy and rejoice in.
The Major Benefit Of Mindfulness Meditation
If you would only look inwardly for the answers you seek connecting to the greater force around you with your mind through careful and structured self observation, you may just be able to live the life you richly deserve and desire.
Mindfulness has been called the heart of Buddhist meditation.
How true is this?
That’s not for me to answer..alone…
But for now let’s just say, the power of mindfulness lies in its practice and its application.
If mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, with intention, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
Then this kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of your “present-moment” reality.
The major benefit of mindful meditation is…
It awakens you to the fact that your life unfolds only in moments at any given time. If you were not fully present for many of those moments, you may not only miss what is most valuable in your life but also fail to realize the endless possibilities and opportunities for growth and transformation.
A lack of awareness of the present moment has more profound implications on a wider sphere creating problems relating to habitual actions and behaviors that stem from deeply ingrained fears and insecurities.
Such problems fester over time and left unattended and unresolved can eventually leave you feeling confused, frustrated, bitter and angry.
Over time this state of mind leads you to lose confidence in yourself and your abilities to redirect your energies in ways that would lead to greater peace and happiness.
Now mindfulness gives you the perfect tool for digging deep within to free yourself of such restraints and conflictions bringing you back into balance and connecting with your higher self and energy.
Mindfulness is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of your own life and everything that surrounds you, your family, friends, the environment you reside in and the larger good of the whole planet and universe.
You do make a difference…
How Do I Learn Mindfulness Meditation?
“The key to this path, which lies at the root of Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga, and which we also find in the works of people like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, and in Native American wisdom, is an appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through a continual attending to it with care and discernment. It is the direct opposite of taking life for granted.” Jon Kabat-Zinn – Mindfulness Meditation For Everyday Life.
Continually ignoring the present moments in favor of past negative events and future possibilities builds this lack of awareness of what is real today, now, in the moment.
This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of your own mind and how it influences your perceptions and your actions. It severely limits your perspective on what it means to be a person and how you are connected to everyone else and to the world around you.
Committing yourself to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and you have a chance to free you from the clutches of your unconsciousness. Thus giving you greater control in the here and now, as well as your whole life in general.
So, mindfulness is simply a practical way to be more in touch with the real you through a systematic process of self-observation, self-inquiry, and mindful action.
“It (Mindfulness) is also enlightening and liberating work. It is enlightening in that it literally allows us to see more clearly, and therefore come to understand more deeply, areas in our lives that we were out of touch with or unwilling to look at.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
“It (Mindfulness) is liberating in that it leads to new ways of being in our own skin and in the world, which can free us from the ruts we so often fall into. It is empowering as well, because paying attention in this way opens channels to deep reservoirs of creativity, intelligence, imagination, clarity, determination, choice, and wisdom within us.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Our mind is constantly thinking up to 80, 000 thoughts a day and the majority of those thoughts are the “same old same old”…they are re-runs of the previous day’s thoughts, the one before that and the one before that…over and over again.
We tend to be particularly unaware that we are thinking virtually all the time. It is tiring and mentally draining trying to block those constant stream of thoughts flowing through your mind leaving you little space or time for inner peace and reflection.
Thus, the result is that you do things automatically, impulsively without awareness, deeper thought or reflection. You end up in a whirlwind of hurt and anguish without control confused, frustrated and angry with life, with the world.
Through meditation you are able to release yourself from this anguish and torment. You become an observer listening to the noise, learning from it and then using the energy generated to guide you opposed to destroying you.
This energy doesn’t come without effort though it takes commitment and discipline to do. This effort to harvest your ability to be in the present moment is the result of your daily meditation practice.
In order to seize moments that make a difference in your life is to pay attention to them. This is how you nurture mindfulness by staying awake to the moment. Mindfulness is about being in control of what you are doing. Staying in the moment is to avoid the trap of living life in a zombie unconscious state, a state in autopilot.
Lapses of being aware of the moment is common and hence a trap to avoid but difficult in times when you are unhappy with what is happening at that particular moment in time.
This gives rise for change, a desire for things to be different…
Breathing Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
So what can you do to keep yourself in a present state?
Have something you can focus your attention to. Something you can anchor your mind to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders.
This is where your breathing plays a pivotal role. It becomes your best friend and ally. Focusing on your breathing, allows your remain present in the moment, in the here and now.
Staying awake to whatever is happening around you…
Your breath helps you seize your moments. Something as basic as your breath reflects how you feel about yourself, as well as how you relate to the world around you.
Your breathing is ever present, with you every step of the way, continuously in the moment…with you.
To use your breathing to nurture mindfulness, just vibrate with it. Breath in and feel it, feel you breath entering you, be part of it, similarly when breathing out feel your breath leaving you.
Just feel your breath, knowing that you are breathing, without forcing it or trying to control it. Don’t think about it, or gain something special from it just breath and enjoy it, feel it, become it, without wondering whether or not you are doing it right or not.
Keep it simple don’t over complicate things just breathe normally and become part of it…
Just work on a breath by breath, moment to moment mantra.
Don’t even pressure yourself to a time frame, because using the breath to bring you back to the present moment takes no time at all, only a shift in focus and attention.
The True Essence Of Mindfulness Meditation
Through meditation you begin to see things for what they are, you gain clarity, you see things a lot clearer. Meditation isn’t about feeling a certain way but rather about the way you feel. It’s not about making the mind empty or still, although stillness is taken to another level with meditation practice and can be nurtured even further with consistency of doing.
But more than anything else meditation is about letting your mind be natural, being itself and knowing what it is in the present moment. Connecting with it on an intimate level.
Meditation is neither shutting things out nor off…
Meditation isn’t about journeying somewhere else, but allowing yourself to be where you already are.
Thee magic behind meditation is that it is possible to rely on the practice itself to guide you through the maze. It will keep you on the straight and narrow even through the ups and especially through the downs.
Meditation reminds you of your options to look for positives in any negative.
It is a guide to your development, a blueprint to the genius within, the real, loveable you. It bypasses the past for what it is…the past!
However, yes there is a but, for meditation to work for you…YOU need to do the work.
You must be willing to endure the hardships, the darkness and the despair when they occur and challenge them, tackle them head on over and over again until they are beaten and they disappear.
And when they come back face them all over again with all your might and determination until the light at the end of the tunnel shines brightly…on you, again!
Don’t run away from hardship and despair but embrace them as challenges to learn and grow from. Avoid the temptation to numb your mind and escape reality for the moment only to deal with it eventually anyway.
Don’t try and avoid the unavoidable…
When you practice mindfulness meditation you are actually acknowledging that at this moment you are present with life and all its glory.
“The path unfolds in this moment and in every moment while we are alive.” Jon Kabat-Zinn – Mindfulness Meditation For Everyday Life.
Think of meditation as a “WAY” instead of a tool or technique. Yes I’ve made the very mistake myself. You live and learn…
It is a WAY of being, a WAY of living, a WAY of listening, a WAY connecting with your inner genius and the universal energy source that guides you through thick and thin.
This may mean giving up some self-control and admitting that at certain times in life you really have little to no idea what you are doing, what’s going on or where you’re headed.
It is in times like this understanding and acknowledging that you could well be lost for the moment that the answers come flowing to you.
Opposed to falsely thinking you have control and all the answers when in actual fact it’s quite the opposite. Avoid thinking that you know more than you actually do…
Understand awareness isn’t the same as thought.
Mindfulness goes beyond thinking, though thinking is part of the process a very big and powerful part of the whole process.
Awareness is more the observer, the “outsider looking in” helping you to see and know your thoughts as thoughts rather than have them control you and your true reality.
The thinking mind is severely fragmented and bias most of the time. You tend to only see things from your own perspective which can blind you from reality itself.
This is just the way thoughts are, awareness on the other hand derives from your conscious reasoning taken moment by moment and can assist you to see the bigger picture rather than just a tunnelled view on things and the world.
Meditation does not try to change your thinking or your perception, through added thinking. It is more about observing the thought itself. By observing your thoughts you remain detached from them stopping you from being drawn in or sucked into them allowing you to learn a profound and liberating lesson about thinking itself.
This allows you to break free of the incessant repetitive thoughts you have on a daily basis that can eventually do your head in…yes!
Most times these repetitive thoughts we have each and everyday are narrow, false, self-protracted, habitual, poisoning and down right destructive.
A Daily Mindfulness Meditation Practice
In your daily mindfulness meditation practice, minus any guided meditation script, meditation music or the like, see if you can detect the very first urge you get to quit the session and any others that may follow. Grow stronger against these urges and plough throw them.
As you observe each urge, breathe with it for a few moments and challenge the urge that you will beat it. Tell it aloud that “you won’t be beaten”.
Say it “I won’t be beaten”
Observe deeper to why these urges are popping up. Is it fatigue, boredom, pain, impatience, or are you just getting the urges to stop the meditation session.
Whatever the case, rather than stopping your meditation practice abruptly, push through a little longer and explore what happens, each time convince yourself to push through just that little bit longer and observe the urges to quit or stop.
Breathe through each urge to stop, check your meditation posture, get comfortable and push through focusing on the moment by moment awareness of your breath.
Practicing like this can increase mindfulness in many different situations that involves closing or ending something and moving on to something else in your life.
It can be as simple and brief as being in touch with closing a door that was open for a little too long, or as complicated and painful as ending a whole chapter in your life.
Closing a door or a chapter mindfully activates and deepens your sensitivity, your ability to be in touch with your moments eliminating the habitual unconscious behavior.
Now it ‘s up to you, your choice…simply, to do or not to do!!!