What’s on Your Mind?
You might be surprised to find out.
There are a lot of specific meditation traditions out there to choose from and one may find this or that method more appealing than another, but there is a simple way of basic meditation which is easily adopted and highly effective in increasing ones awareness. Meditation, after all, is a basic human technique of quiet contemplation. It is a non-religious, mindfulness-oriented silent awareness.
For starters one may wish to set aside 10 or 20 minutes to sit. For something more challenging that may require extra dedication one could try two 20 minute sessions with a short break in between. During the silent sitting, attention to the breath, the body and the mind is encouraged. This will bring about a realization of the mental activity, the swirl of thought forms in which we swim unconsciously throughout our usual day to day activities. You will begin to see how much unchecked and unconscious thoughts flavor our emotions and our moments. These thoughts often become the way we see our world, they become the experience we are having and thus become our life.
Through a practice of silent sitting meditation one not only becomes aware of this semi-automatic and judgmental mental activity, but also one begins to cultivate an awareness which allows one to bring the attention back to the present moment, the here and now. This is a Be Here Now kind of thing. It is a cultivation of serenity, a creation of spaciousness in ones life, making room for healing, answers and in general, Peace. Through this practice we become aware of the difference between awareness and thought, between living life through the illusory lenses of the past or anxieties of the future and living consciously in the present moment.
When we make the time to meditate, we are consciously choosing to make time to reconnect with our self, our true self, the awareness behind the thought forms, that which resides in the stillness of the space behind and between. It is a way to get to know oneself and through this simple exercise of sitting and breathing and being mindful of the present moment and aware of the brains activity so much else can be revealed.
We can see that instead of coming from this spacious and peaceful state in our daily activities, we are often much more in touch with some mental form of suffering which flavors our emotions and interactions with others. Often we are not truly in touch with the moment, with the loved one, with the task at hand . . . we aren’t even in touch with our true selves. And so, taking up the practice of mindfulness meditation occasionally, weekly, daily can be a very good start to enriching ones life and enjoying the moment.
One can see this meditation as an act of love; an act of self-love. You are caring for yourself by taking up this practice. Letting go of the tensions of the day, in the body and in the mind. Relaxing. Deeply. Cultivating a practice to counter the years of poor habits of attaching to and identifying with involuntary thought forms which are often negative in nature, judgmental, fearful or anxious, all of which are detriments to our focus, manifestation of intentions and enjoyment of the beautiful moments and people in our lives.
When these thought arise it is good to pay attention to them, honor and welcome them. They are teachers showing you something about yourself, often something deeper and habitual. Often the habitual or judgmental thoughts which arise are elements of your own personal energy you may wish to work on flowing and lessening even eliminating from your life.
I found that joining a sangha or meditation group was helpful to me. It helped remind me to keep meditation in my life and knowing others would be looking forward to seeing me helped me stay accountable to actually showing up and engaging in meditation at least once a week. If you have a spiritual guide, minister, clergyperson or life coach you work with in your life, they can also be very helpful to remind you to take the time to care for yourself in this way by reconnecting with your true inner self.
When one wishes to begin a meditation practice there are a few important aspects or techniques to remain mindful of:
1. The posture to sit erect, often cushions or firm pillows are used to raise the buttocks up and help tilt the body slightly forward which causes a natural tendency to straighten the spine. This opens up the hara, or diaphragm area which facilitates easier breathing. Lying down or sitting in a strait backed chair are also options, the attention will be on the body, the breath and the minds activity and presence, not whether or not you have a better lotus position than your neighbor.
2. When one realizes that one is falling asleep or lost in a chain of thoughts, gently bring ones awareness back to the present by focusing attention on the moment, the breath and the body. In this way we can open the hand of thought and let the thought we were attached to go and return to the present moment of peace, of sitting and breathing. This can be done by counting the breaths, or through simple attention to the breath, the way it feels, how it expands and fills the body.
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“Change your thoughts, change your life.”
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