Happy Spring Equinox! What better time to start or renew a Mindfulness Practice. Read on for some helpful hints and feel free to make some of your own in the comments. I'd love to hear from you! - Liz
What is Mindfulness? The definition varies a little depending upon whom you ask. For some it is a meditation practice while for others it is a practice outside of meditation. When I meditatr my goal is to reach Samadhi which is a higher level of consciousness. For me mindfulness is something I do when beginning a meditation session. I'll make myself aware of the present moment through all of the senses before settling into my mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase silently repeated which opens the consciousness. I also practice mindfulness outside of meditation to bring myself to the present moment and the task at hand. Both Mindfulness and Meditation can be defined as awareness of the present moment. You keep an open acceptance and curiosity of what IS without trying to manipulate it, you're merely the watcher.
How does mindfulness help with meditation? Meditation is all about being in the present moment. Mindfulness is one way we can move into the present moment and begin a meditation. A great way to settle in is by hearing all of the sounds around you can move into it. First hear all the sounds near and far.. Then become aware of the sensations within your body, like how you feel sitting on the seat. Next notice the air against your skin and how it feels as you breath in and out. Focusing on the breath and how it feels is just another way of being present. People often get stressed because they believe that they aren’t allowed to think during meditation. Even the most experienced at meditation have thoughts creep in. After some time the spaces between the thoughts gets larger. Just allow thoughts to go and return to the mantra or watching the breath. Don’t get involved with thoughts. Don’t get so tied up in a thought that you have a million thoughts about that one thought, building them into larger stories. Return to the present, the breath.
Meditation is when the thinking mind ceases and that does happen. With steady practice gaps will begin to form between thoughts. Those gaps are meditation and the gaps increase over time. When thoughts arise in the background of your breathing, it is called mindful awareness. So generally we float between the two states. If stressed the thinking mind may become monotonous. If there has been a break from meditation practice for a few weeks the ego begins clinging again. You may notice yourself plagued with thoughts once again. Just return to mindful awareness and whatever your meditation practice is, rest assured, things will get better.
Mindfulness can be practiced anytime at work or home. Like meditation it is staying in the Now. Staying present requires letting go of thoughts regarding the past and the future. This allows for a lot less worry and anxiety. In mindful awareness you take things in through all of your senses. Practicing mindfulness while doing a task will have one noticing every minute detail. Every step becomes a task within itself. It brings greater pleasure to the simplest of things. The result is a much more joyous life.
Remember that everyone has good days and not so good days with meditation and mindfulness practices. Great pleasure can be obtained from both so it is worth steady practice,. The trick is to not try and manipulate the experience to make it into something lovely that you felt the last time. Meditation and mindfulness are all about letting go. When mindfully doing something the end product becomes so much more magnificent. It opens the creative capacities which is a wonderful tool for artists and anyone wishing to bring more creativity into their lives. It improves cognitive function, lowers blood pressure, and relieves depression and anxiety.