Overwhelmed with stress lately? Felt like your heart’s taken a roller coaster ride with surging positive and negative emotions? Or have you experienced something traumatic or painful recently like divorce, the death of a loved one or job loss? If these are the cases then, you might want to set yourself free with mindful meditation – a practice that allows you to focus on your NOW.
Meditation And Mindful Meditation: Contrasts
While meditation is usually described as having a state of consciousness different from your norm or have an altered state of consciousness, mindful meditation is the exact opposite. Practicing it allows you to get in tune with what’s presently happening to you. You might question Well, why will this practice be of any good to me? Am I not supposed to let go and forget my pains and stress? Let’s put it this way.
Most practitioners and seekers do meditation techniques to de-stress, relax, and find self-love and optimism by attaining a state of mind that’s different from their norm. Mindful meditation still eases stress and brings in relaxation the opposite way — by allowing the doer to be aware of his NOW, his present circumstance. “Mindfulness meditation practices,” according to Saundra Jain, PsyD, LPC, “are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines.”
Meditating Mindfully Teaches You To . . .
- Look at your present circumstance and experience non-judgmentally.
- Move on with your hurts and pains.
Face your current fears and anxieties without personal bias and judgment. Acknowledging that a person, thing or circumstance has hurt you or made you afraid makes it easier for you to let go of them comparing to thinking of the “what ifs”. Instead of saying, “I could have done this . . . I could have said that . . .”, let your consciousness say, “Yes, it hurt me . . . Yes, I am afraid of this . . .”
- Be present in your NOW.
The focus of mindful meditation is to make you aware of your presence in your NOW – both body and mind. This focus is in contrast to the popular the body is present, but the mind is absent ideology that seems prevalent in our society nowadays.
Nancy Frumer-Styron, PsyD, defines her practice this way: “Mindfulness meditation is a discipline of mind training, and it has been variously defined by many different groups over the centuries. A good contemporary definition taken from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy by members of The Insititute for Meditation and Psychotherapy is “awareness of present experience with acceptance.”
Mindful Meditation: How To Do It
Find your spot.
It could be anywhere – an enclosed room or an open space – as long as it’s comfortable, quiet and free from distractions [TV, gadgets and the like as well as people milling around.
Determine your position.
The most common position practitioners take on when mindfully meditating is sitting. However, you can assume other positions like lying down [as long as you don’t drift off to dreamland!].
If you choose sitting as your preferred position, you can opt to sit on the ground/floor, on a cushion [there are cushions made explicitly for meditating] or low bench or even a chair. If you’re on the ground, floor or pillow, you can cross your legs Indian-style for comfort.
If you do your meditation while sitting on a chair, make sure that your feet are comfortable, too [for those in the shorter side, consider using a footstool to keep your feet from dangling. For those on the taller side, on the other hand, make sure your hips are higher than the placement of your knees].
And when you’ve already sat down, make sure your posture is both upright but not rigid.
- Let your eyes rest.
Once you’ve sat down, put your hands on your thighs with your palms facing downward. Then, settle your gaze on a focal thing – about 4-6 feet away from where you’re at or, if you’re facing a wall, focus your gaze on that wall or any focal point a considerable distance away from you if you’re in an open ground. Do nothing unique or particular to your eyes as you stare at your focal point. Just be conscious of what you’re staring at.
- Notice the way you breathe.
Unlike other meditation practices, you will NOT do anything to your breathing. Breathe as you would when you feel relaxed. However, take notice of how the air goes into your lungs through your nose as you inhale and how it goes out as you exhale.
There will be instances when your mind will wander, or your mind will be overcrowded with your thoughts. When these happen, bring yourself to your immediate surroundings and your body by focusing on your breathing.
- And lastly, focus on your present.
No thoughts about either your future or your past – you just have to be in your NOW.
If you’re a novice, start with 15-minute mindful meditations gradually moving up on 10-minute intervals whenever you feel comfortable until you reach the 1-hour mark.
“Meditation provides the path inward to separate from external noise and activity; being rather than doing. Initially, we may become aware of the constant mind chatter which can be distracting if not discouraging. But with practice and patience, the space within quiets and the awareness begins to find its way back to that quiet when it becomes distracted by the bubbling mind chatter.” – Leslie Ellen ray, LMFT.
By doing mindful meditation, you recognize your every day is a GIFT by being aware of your present situation.