Knowing that the mind and body are interconnected we can begin to learn and understand how to heal mentally and physically through meditation. We are always under the influence of our emotions and thoughts, and when we begin to still the mind we can begin to heal. It is through the stillness of the mind where we can find peace and healing energy.
Mindfulness meditation has its origins in Buddhism, but the practice is secular and has no religious affiliation. Mindfulness simply means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment nonjudgmentally. When one is able to practice this type of attention it nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of the present moment.
Studies indicate that our minds play a large part in engineering our mental and emotional health, along with physical wellness. Focusing on breathing in meditation trains the mind to develop concentration and awareness. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
When we are able to focus on the present moment, we are not dragged into the past or future. When we think about the past we may become depressed, and when we think about the future, we can become anxious. Present moment awareness provides a grounded, stable place where we can be fully awake to the unfolding of our life in the moment. When we lack present moment awareness we are not open to the present, and may miss opportunities for growth and transformation.
Here’s a simple guide to help you get started. You need no special tools or props just yourself, and a comfortable seat to rest in. Understand that in the meditation you are shifting from the mode of doing to the mode of be-ing. I like to start people with 5 minutes, but that may be too much for some. Go with what works for you, and know that it is not the amount of time you spend doing mindfulness, but it’s really about the frequency. The more you can practice the better, even if it’s for shorter bursts of time.
- Taking a comfortable seated position, gently close your eyes. You may choose to lie down, and that is fine. Bring your attention to your breath, and follow the breath as you inhale and exhale. As you breathe in and out, count to 4 slowly as you inhale and as you exhale.
- As you are breathing in and out, your mind will begin to wander. That is completely normal. When your mind wanders gently bring it back to your breath with no judgment.
- As you sit breathing don’t try to change anything, just breathe and let go. Give yourself permission to be in this moment, exactly as it is and exactly as you are. There is no need to force your breath, just feel the breath as it enters and exits your body.
- When you have finished gently open your eyes and take a moment to feel what you are experiencing.
When we practice mindfulness we are not trying to improve anything or get anywhere. We are just be-ing present in the moment, moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath. It’s about making the mind still and experiencing the moment. We are not searching or forcing anything, we just are inviting ourselves to be in the present moment with full awareness. This awareness allows us to embody calmness, mindfulness and balance.
As you practice your practice will grow and mature, and out of it will come calmness, stillness, and insights. What you experience in your seat will begin to embody your life and all that you do. You will develop an awareness of self and become more connected with your physical body. Through the practice of mindfulness, you will become a more compassionate and loving witness to your life.
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