Why Meditate and Be Mindful? Part 2
The practice of meditation is not something that requires a lot of skill or energy. What it does and what makes it so great is that it uses the gifts we already have to enhance our life.
Through meditation, we all have the ability to relieve stress from our daily lives. By relieving stress, we are able to to have a deeper level of understanding between ourselves and the people around us.
3 Pillars to a Successful Practice
Three key pillars that will allow for deeper understanding are; concentration, mindfulness, and compassion.
Concentration focuses and slows down our thoughts so that we can let go of healthy cluttering thoughts.
When our mind is not concentrating it gets filled with thoughts that add no value to our lives or even deter us from making the best decisions. According to meditation expert Sharon Salzberg, “concentration is the art of gathering all the energy, the stormy scattered attention and settling it”.
Practice Concentration in 5 minutes
In a relaxed seated position, locate an object in your field of vision and focus on it. Your thoughts may carry you away- return to it by focusing on the object. After a few minutes, expand your gaze by still focusing on the object while allowing your mind to take it the area surrounding the object. After a few minutes, focus your vision back on the object. At this moment, you have the ability to choose what to focus your attention on, making you more in control of your thoughts.
During our practice, we realize we get lost in our thoughts, creating fantasies or reliving memories after a few breaths.
Mindfulness is all about how we relate to what is happening at the present moment and not what is happening at the moment. Our attention is refined so that we can connect directly with what life brings. Often, our perception of the reality can be distorted through “bias, habits, fears, and desires”. By being mindful and aware of the present moment, we can take life and situations for what they are right here, right now.
Experiencing mindfulness opens us up to feeling alive and vibrant. I also create space in our life to have clear and creative responses to present situations.
What we do for ourselves, we can begin to do towards other people.
Learning to pay attention in a more open way creates the conditions for kindness and compassion to flow. When we see the good within ourselves we can transfer that energy to those around us.
Compassion makes our attention more inclusive, transforming the way we view ourselves and our lives. We begin to view one another as connections rather than “us” and “them”. We find we have less stress, more fulfillment, happiness, and insight that transforms our lives.
Why Does it Matter?
Meditation is practiced to have a different life. It deepens our skills of concentration, mindfulness, and compassion. When beginning our practice, it is important to focus on the Why vs the How. Ask yourself why you want to meditate. Set your intentions and motivation for beginning a practice.
Intention fuels our desire to practice meditation. By setting our intention, we are able to release the anxiety, confusion, and doubt that may accompany meditation. The intention will carry us as we travel in the real of meditation. Once an intention is set it can be let go so that you can on the practice itself.
By connecting to something larger than ourselves, intention can help us recognize the ability to meditate for all beings.
4 Steps to Practicing Meditation
Feel the Body
Physically feel your body. In a seated position, connect your feet, legs, seat, hips, and tailbone. Have your back in an upright position with your shoulders down, relaxed and away from your ears. Bring awareness to your hands, belly, and throat. Unclench your jaw and release your tongue from the roof of your mouth. Sense your body in this still position, feeling the breath move through the entire body- head to toes. At this moment, ask yourself why you are meditating? What are your desired outcomes?
Thoughts will arise as you listen deeply. Take note of them and let them go. Do not think about your intention. Rather, go deep within yourself and listen to your body. How does it feel in this moment?
Set Your Intention
Hold your intention in your consciousness. It may be as simple as being open, staying curious and being present. Allow whatever arises to be here.
Let Your Intention Go
In silence, repeat your intention, anchoring it to your mind and body. Once it is clear and stable, let it go. Rest back into the body, allowing your intention to guide your heart and mind through your practice.
The key to meditating is getting in touch with what you value most. It is easier to dedicate the time you need when your motivation is clear.
During next week’s series, we will start our practice. Beginning with the basics we will review meditation 101, sitting techniques and props for every body. This week, practice concentrating and meditating using the tips above.