What is mindfulness?
In the West, Mindfulness is often described as a lifestyle with Mindfulness meditation being one aspect of it. The meditation part is a Western adaptation of Buddhist Vipassana meditation, and the concept of mindfulness itself is firmly rooted in Buddhist tradition. An important thing to note is that the Western concept of Mindfulness meditation is non-secular. Practicing Western style Mindfulness meditation will not interfere with your religious beliefs.
Some aspects of Mindfulness:
- Being non-judgemental
- Being open-hearted
- Awareness of (or being in) the current moment, rather than the future or the past.
- Gaining greater awareness of ourselves and our lives
- Responding rather than reacting to situations
What is Mindfulness meditation?
The purpose of Mindfulness meditation is to focus (and keep) the mind on the present moment. This is usually achieved by the meditator focusing their attention on something that exists in the present moment, such as the breath, reciting a mantra or looking at an object, such as a candle.
Meditation Basics describes posture and other elements common to all meditation practices. For more details on sitting methods and postures, read Meditation Posture: Choose the Best and Most Comfortable Posture.
The following preparation works well for any meditation type.
- Close your eyes and inhale deeply. Hold the breath for 3-4 seconds and exhale slowly.
- Keep doing this for 5 or 6 times then allow the breath to follow a comfortable, relaxed rhythm.
- Continue your easy breathing rhythm and become more and more relaxed and peaceful.
Simple Mindfulness meditation practices:
Firstly choose a mantra – “I AM” is a good choice. Pronounce this as “AYUM.” Speak out the Mantra during the meditation, either out loud or silently. My personal choice is silent as it makes the meditation easier to do outside (train, bus, plane). Of course, it may take a while to gain sufficient experience to be able to meditate in a busy or noisy environment.
FYI: Each Chakra has its own nature with specific symbols and Mantras.
Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax the body, listen to some meditation music, if it helps. Breathe through the nose and out through the mouth.
Having established a comfortable breathing rhythm, start to recite the mantra. The rhythm (or speed) of reciting the mantra is not important, don’t worry about it. Slow pace is OK. Fast pace is OK too. Sometimes the mantra synchronizes with the breath, other times not. Don’t obsess over it, just accept each meditation session as a unique experience.
**Throughout the meditation session you’ll find that your thoughts begin to slow down and become less rapid. Keep in the present moment by focusing on the mantra. If a new thought comes to your mind, don’t engage with it, just watch it like a cloud, and it will disappear. If you do find that you’ve become lost in thought, don’t worry about it, just re-focus on the mantra, and continue. Don’t worry if this happens to you (and it will). It the same for even the most experienced meditator.
That is all there is to the technique, so simple, yet so rewarding. Do this for 10 or 20 minutes morning and evening.
Focusing on the breath during meditation a very common method for keeping the mind in the present moment. It is simply a matter of focusing the attention on the breath – this simple method works well.
- Start at the inhale
- Focus the attention on the breath at the beginning of the inhale.
- Maintain focus on the breath as you breathe in as if going down.
- At the bottom of the inhale, keep your focus on the breath as you exhale, as if going up.
- Repeat (it is that simple!)
Read the above section on Mantras ** – The process is essentially the same, but uses a different thing to focus the mind on the present moment.