Doing Meditation

Don’t learn about meditation, just starting doing it.

People have told me that they want to read and educate themselves about meditation and the different types such as transcendental, mindfulness, guided visualization, Japa etc. It seems big and complicated. I understand, because I did the same thing. I bought three books on meditation before I even tried doing it. Having done that I realized it wasn’t necessary and not the best way to begin. Better to keep it simple at the start. Just sit still, quiet your mind, quiet your body and you’re doing meditation.

Learn as you go.

Experiment with it.

Experience it.

Some things you can try; focus on your breathing. As thoughts come into your mind allow them to pass…watch them go. And refocus on your breathing. Or focus on the present moment. Exercise discipline on your mind by bringing it back to the present moment if your thoughts begin to wander to the past or future. That’s harder than it sounds since our mind is occupied with past and future most of the time. Another method is to say an affirmation or mantra over and over in your mind. Or focus on an emotion such as gratitude or compassion. Feel it.

It’s not so much about what kind of meditation you do, but that you do it. It’s about creating the habit. The regular practice of it will bring benefits into all aspects of your life; mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. By learning to quiet your mind and body and just be in the present moment, it will reduce feelings of stress and also reduce the physical reactions to stress.

Meditation will increase our awareness and improve our perception of our challenges or painful experiences. It will enhance our immune function and helps to regulate brain chemicals. Meditation will bring peace into our life. But not by reading about it. So try it.

I spoke to a friend last week that spent nine days in silence at a retreat meditating all day. I thought that was awesome, if you can afford the time to do that. It may not be realistic for most of us to take nine days away from family, career, or Facebook! Fortunately you don’t need to do that to start seeing benefits. Start with a short time. I take 10 minutes at work and close my office door, and meditate listening to solitudes music or Deepak Chopra Soul of Healing Affirmations that I just downloaded recently from iTunes. By taking that mere 10 minutes, it has a huge positive impact on the rest of my day. It reduces stress instantly and gives perspective to whatever else I have on the go.

If you have trouble at the start because of your “monkey mind” that is normal, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t over analyze and evaluate your experience. Simply accept it. With practice it does get easier to be still physically and mentally.

I would like to hear about your experience with mediation. Email me if you have any thoughts, experiences or wisdom you’d like to share.

Live in the Now

Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment. People that live in the present moment handle stress and trauma better than those who dwell on the past or are preoccupied with the future. If you feel anxiety or worry or shame, chances are you are either ruminating on the past or worried about some future potentiality. Either way it’s not helpful. You can’t change the past, and most of what you worry about in the future will never happen.

Of course you already know that on an intellectual level, but it’s not that easy to change. We are emotional beings and driven by our subconscious minds. Is it possible to change, and to release the anxiety and other feelings that cause stress? Yes. There are things you can do to practice mindfulness.

Focus your awareness on the here and now, pay attention to whatever you are doing. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back. Be aware of your emotions and feelings, but learn to accept them. Be aware of your feelings from a third-person perspective, as if from outside of yourself. This helps to be non-judgmental and non-reactive so you may respond better to whatever situation you may be in.

Mindfulness meditation is focusing on your breathing, or one of your senses, or your body and how it feels, or even an awareness of your current thoughts. Choose one of those to pay attention to, for example; focus on your breathing. Meditate on inhaling and exhaling, excluding all other thoughts. It takes practice, but with practice you will gain an increased ability to pay attention to only breathing.

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and also increase creativity and energy. Monks who practice mindfulness regularly have high levels of equanimity and well-being.

Don’t dwell on the past which you can’t change, or feel anxiety for the future that you can’t control. Live in the now.