- How to Meditate
- What Is Meditation?
- The Relaxation Response: Meditation’s Physiological Benefits
- Meditation For Beginners
- Types Of Meditation
- Clear Your Mind
How to Meditate
The world is filled with so much noise and stress.
It is a place where you can barely gather your thoughts before receiving someone’s input or anxiety creeps up and destroy your peace of mind. It almost feels impossible to get a moment’s solitude.
Whether you’re at school, work, home, or even in the comfort of your bedroom—something always disturbs you. Sometimes it feels like the only way to find peace, focus, and find yourself is to go far out into the wilderness alone—or is it?
“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace.” – J. Donald Walters
You don’t have to escape to the woods to find stability and calm. Even in the middle of the storm that we call life, we can find a way to clear our minds—and we can achieve this peaceful mental state through meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Most people think of meditation as the process of sitting down, cross-legged, with both hands raised and saying “ohmmm” for hours on end. Well, yes—you could do it that way, but meditation is about more than that. Meditation is the practice and techniques that you can use to focus your mind on a particular thought, object, or activity, thus training your perfection, awareness, and attention. In doing so, you can achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional stability.
So, does this mean that meditation is simply the art of relaxing? Not really. While relaxation is one of the benefits of meditation, it is merely one of the by-products of the entire process. Again, while Hollywood and the media depict meditation as sitting and breathing in and out, this is but a part of the process in the ongoing pursuit of freeing your mind.
The best way to define meditation would be through the Buddhist Philosophy. It is the means of transforming the mind, developing concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity to liberate ourselves from the notion that we have to control everything around us. Meditation relieves the mind of attachments to things that we are not able to control, and by doing so, frees us to see the true nature of things. Through meditation, we can find more positive ways of simply being. It makes it easier to find peace but at the same time energizes our mind, leading us to a better understanding of life around us.
The Relaxation Response: Meditation’s Physiological Benefits
Enlightenment and a sense of peace and calm sound amazing, but for the cynics out there who don’t buy into the whole idea of meditation, there’s a lot of other side benefits that come with the practice. The scientific term for the phenomenon is known as the relaxation response. This involuntary response of the body as a result of meditation, a result of the significant reduction in activity, particularly of the sympathetic nervous system.
There’s a lot of other side benefits that come with the practice
Among the chief benefits of the body’s relaxation response is the improvement in your cardiovascular health. The strain on your heart is reduced because meditation reduces your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. The improved heart and respiratory rates also, in turn, reduce perspiration.
Among the many other benefits of the relaxation response that researchers found were the reduction in stress, anxiety, and blood cortisol levels of people that meditate. Moreover, subjects of studies displayed an increased feeling of well-being and a more positive outlook on life, evidencing the transformative effects of meditation.
Isn’t meditation amazing? The latter reasons alone are a testament to that, but the interesting fact is that, as we mentioned before, these are merely side benefits to meditation and not its true goal. If you asked a Buddhist monk or philosopher what meditation is for, you would probably receive an answer similar to this: Meditation has no true goal, except to simply be.
The one true benefit of meditation is enlightenment: The liberation of our minds, relieving us of the idea that we can control everything around us. In the ultimate irony, by letting go, we become more in control. We can maintain calmness and a sense of inner harmony that allows us to live a better life.
Meditation For Beginners
Have we convinced you of the many health benefits that meditation has to offer? Has meditation piqued your philosophical interests, and you’re now ready to attain emotional well-being? Well, then—let us help you with a quick exercise on how to meditate. You can expand on this as you learn what works for you, but it’s a great starting point.
First, find a quiet spot in your home or even in the office if you’re in genuine need of relaxation and peace at the moment. Sit or lie in a fashion that you’re most comfortable with and then close your eyes. Maintain your position and let yourself breathe naturally and make no attempts to control it.
Once you feel that you have achieved that natural rhythm in your breathing, focus your mind on the process. Be mindful of your breathing, each movement, each action you take with each breath—how your body moves, your chest, your belly, your ribs. Remember to keep your eyes closed and that you’re not trying to manipulate your breathing, whether in its pattern or its intensity. You are merely being, understanding, observing what goes on. Do this for two to three minutes.
During this process, your mind may stray toward work, family, or other matters. You need to push those thoughts out, and you must keep your mind from wandering. This beginner meditation exercise helps to train you to be mindful, increase your awareness, and help you focus.
If this exercise brought you a sense of calm, an increased sense of awareness, or allowed you to relax, then continue to do it. Try to meditate two to three minutes a day for a week. If it continues to go well, double the duration and do it for another week, and continue to do so. By the second month, you will be meditating for at least 10-15 minutes per day, and it has become a habit.
Types Of Meditation
So, you’ve been doing the meditation exercise we provided. Why haven’t you achieved mental enlightenment and a Buddhist-monk-level of calm yet? First off, that was only a beginner-level meditation, and not a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all solution. There are multiple types of meditation available out there. Next, we’ll share some of the most popular ones that have helped us personally and have shown results.
Remember how in the beginner meditation, we asked you to keep your mind from wandering and keeping yourself focused on the task of observing your breathing? Well, in mindfulness meditation, you need to observe how your mind wanders and acknowledge the different thoughts that pop up while your mind is in a relaxed state. However, you must make sure that your consciousness does not get tangled up and bogged down with these thoughts, and that you are merely aware of them, but you do not engage them.
Through this process, you will quickly realize that’s not as easy as it seems. We’ve trained our minds to pass judgment on our every thought, experience, and memory. For example, we immediately mark moments as happy or sad, people as good or bad, or experiences as ones we love or hate. Through mindfulness meditation, you can get a sense of inner balance and remove these judging tendencies that we have in our thoughts.
To be mindful, to become still, and to not pass judgment and remain in a state of calm: This is what the practice of mindfulness meditation teaches us.
Instead of focusing on your thoughts, the concentration school of meditation focuses on your state of being in the physical world. In this set of techniques, you are to focus on a single point, a single item in your surroundings—whether it is your breath, like in our beginner meditation technique, or spoken words, the sound of your surroundings, or simply counting the beads on a bracelet.
While it may sound extremely easy, you’ll find that focusing on a single repetitive task for an extended duration of time is difficult, as your mind tends to wander. Through this form of meditation, you will train your mind to let go of random thoughts that pop up in your head. The difference between concentration and mindfulness meditation is that you do not actively make yourself aware of these thoughts, your goal is to push these thoughts to the side as they arise, let them go, and focus on your task. Through this meditation process, you can improve your concentration, focus on the now, and not let any of the surrounding noise disturb you. It allows you to develop a sense of calm, even amidst a storm.
If you are attracted by the idea of the Hollywood depiction of meditation, transcendental meditation is the method for you. This form of meditation requires that you remain seated, breathe slowly, and repeat a mantra or a series of words. As the name implies, the point of this meditation technique is to transcend your current state of being, become better, and move past your limitations through concentration and mindfulness.
According to Traditional transcendental meditation, the teacher determines the words or mantra spoken during the process. The founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, provided students with a mantra that consisted of Sanskrit words, which would help students focus instead of merely following their breathing pattern. Today, the exact mantra differs from one student to another and is still determined by the teacher according to different factors unique to the student, such as their birth year, gender, or particular life situation.
More modern versions or schools of transcendental meditation allow the student to choose their mantra. For example, if someone wanted to quit smoking, they would repeat the words “I do not need to smoke” during meditation, affirming their resolve and allowing them to transcend their situation. It is noteworthy that some traditional schools do not consider this as transcendental meditation, but we grouped them due to their similarities. The latter is merely a more modern adaptation.
We’ll close our list of meditation techniques with the Metta meditation school, also known as loving-kindness meditation. Unlike other forms of meditation that call for you not to engage your thoughts whether negative or positive, this particular form of meditation asks you to cultivate your thoughts and change them toward an attitude of love and kindness for everything.
The interesting part about Metta meditation is that it promotes a feeling of love and compassion toward all things, even sources of stress, or your perceived enemies. The goal of this meditation technique is to keep repeating loving messages to specific people or their loved ones; by doing so, you open your mind to receiving compassion and kindness as well.
Metta meditation promotes a feeling of love and compassion toward all things, even sources of stress, or your perceived enemies
While you may be dubious about this particular form of meditation, it has proven effective in people who have a deep sense of anger, resentment, or frustration toward someone or a situation. Metta meditation can help them move on and change their outlook toward the events and people they are in conflict with.
People suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression have vouched for the effectiveness of Metta meditation, so if you have any anger issues or strong, negative feelings for a particular person, you might find this meditation discipline helpful.
Clear Your Mind
Whether you’re looking to transcend your understanding of life and the world around you, or if you are looking for inner peace, innate calmness, and the simplicity of just being, meditation is a practice that you should practice often. If you are under the impression that meditation is outdated or just not for you, then take a few moments to read the benefits again. Even if you don’t believe in the mental and spiritual gains of meditation listed here, at least try it out once. See if the short-term physiological benefits win you over—we are confident you’ll like the results.
Build Courage with These 3 Warrior Poses
The warrior poses are among the most well recognized postures in the Hatha yoga tradition. Standing poses that are accessible to almost everyone—Virabhadrasana I, II, and III—engage the entire physical body, while providing an opportunity to bring a powerful focus and attitude into the moment you are in. Just putting your body into these shapes brings about a certain attitude—one of strength, focus, and determination. Each pose has its own unique alignment and purpose; however, when grouped together, these poses can take your body and spirit through a full journey of the heart.
What’s in a Name?
It is interesting that these warrior poses are named in sequential order, when they neither naturally transition into one another, nor do they seem to exist in order of difficulty. One explanation is that the number refers to the number of long lines that are created from the center of the pose (both arms up in Warrior I make one line, two arms out in Warrior II make two lines, and the arms, front, and back leg in Warrior III make three lines). However, a look into Hindu mythology provides deeper explanation.
Virabhadra (after whom the pose is named) was a powerful form of the lord Shiva; according to some traditions, each pose represents a stage in his journey.
- Warrior I represents the warrior’s arrival on the battleground.
- Warrior II represents the warrior taking aim at his enemy.
- Warrior III represents the warrior going into battle.
When approached in this way, the poses take on more meaning, since everyone is on a battlefield of one form or another.
Here’s A 20-Minute Yoga That You Should Try
Warrior Pose I
Physical Alignment: From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), step your left leg back a comfortable distance—usually 3 to 4 feet, depending on the length of your legs. You should be able to have your back foot flat to the earth, so externally rotate your back leg as much as necessary to get the heel down.
Beginning with your hands on your hips can help you to align your foundation, before moving into the full depth and breadth of the pose. Widening your feet from right to left and shortening your stride are suggested solutions to any instability in the legs.
Once you feel stable, extend the arms upward. Keep the tailbone anchored down toward your front heel, while hugging your front ribs in.
Attitude: Symbolically, these warrior poses is about moving forward into the depths of life with a confident and open attitude. Imagine your back leg firmly rooted in the present, and the bend in the front leg as your willingness to move deeply into what is ahead. Look courageously at your goals, and lean into them.
Your legs represent your groundedness and stability on the path, while your arms uplifted represent your connection to higher vibrations and elevated thoughts. Keep pointing your heart forward, as if you were shining a flashlight toward where you want to go. Soften your face to embrace the journey with grace.
Warrior Pose II
Physical Alignment: The legs are wider in Warrior II—about as wide as your hand when you stretch your arms out horizontally. Turn your right leg out, and your left leg slightly in to set your foundation. Check to ensure that your front heel lines up with the arch of your back foot, and that you can evenly press down through all four corners of each foot.
Bend your front leg as close to 90 degrees as possible, without letting the knee move beyond the heel. Keep the back leg straight, while encouraging the top of the back thighbone to move toward the back plane of the body. With the arms outstretched, gaze over the fingertips of your front hand, while remaining vertical in your torso.
Attitude: Your heart represents the present moment. Can you remain there, even though your attention may be pulled in different directions? Your front arm points toward your future (and many people end up leaning too far forward in this pose), while the back arm (out of your line of sight) represents your past.
As you lunge into your front leg with strength and determination, stay steadfast in your awareness in the moment. If you notice your jaw clenching or brow furrowing, you may be taking life too seriously. This pose requires the strength of a warrior, but void of violence. So keep your attitude light, even when faced with a challenge.
Warrior Pose III
Physical Alignment: Part of the journey of Warrior III is a smooth entry into the pose. Begin in Warrior I, and spin your back heel up. Push off your back leg and shift your weight into your front leg.
As soon as your back leg lifts off the ground, energize and engage it. Keep the toes pointed down, but keep the leg straight and strong. Root down through the base of the big toe on your standing leg as you straighten it, and reach forward with both arms. Keep your chest slightly lifted, and look forward.
Remain strong in the backline of the body, as the weight of the arms and legs can create an additional challenge for the spine. If you feel like you are collapsing, lift your chest a bit more, and consider bringing the hands to prayer position at your chest.
Attitude: Fly, fly, fly! If Warrior I is about having your eye on the prize, Warrior III is about actively going for it. Because this is a physically challenging pose that requires considerable effort and strength, it is vital to keep an attitude light enough to help you take flight.
Fly beyond limiting thoughts and beliefs that would keep you tied down. Surprise yourself with your ability to soar beyond distractions, obstacles, and uncertainty.
What Does a Warrior Mean to You?
The Oxford American Dictionary defines warrior poses as “a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.” What areas of your life are calling for you to bring more courage? In what areas can you use your experience to move beyond what seems to be dragging you down?
Practice the warrior poses to zone in on your strengths and use them to your advantage. Get clear in your intention, and let the poses work into your subtle body. Your warrior heart will serve you well.
article source: chopra.com
Chakra Poses and Affirmations to Reassess Your Life
It’s halfway through the year (already!), and it’s a good time for a personal chakra poses check-in:
- Are you on a path of happiness?
- Are you following your bliss?
- Are you taking time to attend to your body, mind, heart, and spirit?
Using the chakra poses as a framework for reflection allows for a holistic assessment.
In yoga philosophy, the Chakras are wheels of energy located throughout the body. Attending to the physical and emotional manifestations of imbalances in each of the seven main chakras helps bring your entire system into optimal balance. As you evaluate your life midyear, start from the top of the chakra poses system and work your way down to get grounded and centered. Use the following poses and positive affirmations to consider what the rest of this year can bring for your life overall.
Sahasrara (Crown Chakra)
The Crown Chakra is located at the top of the head and one foot above the top of the head. The Crown Chakra is associated with your connection to the realm of infinite, universal energy. Stimulating and opening up the Crown Chakra allows you to remember that you are part of something greater than yourself. When you step outside of the minute dramas of your life for a broader perspective and remember that you are interconnected to everything, you can better share your gifts and work to make the world a better place.
Connect to the Crown Chakra poses by inverting—bringing your head below your heart—physically and mentally turning the world on its head.
Affirmation: I attend to my highest, best self and serve from a place of understanding.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottananasana)
- Extend your arms all the way out to your sides.
- Step or jump your feet wide so that they line up under your wrists.
- Turn your toes to point forward and turn your heels out slightly.
- Bring your hands to your hips, lift your chest, and inhale.
- Fold forward, bring your hands to the earth, and exhale.
- Allow your head to hang heavy or to rest gently on a block or the yoga mat.
- Hold still or sway gently side to side.
- Hold for one to two minutes and then stand up slowly.
Ajna (Third Eye Chakra)
The Third Eye Chakra is located at the space between your eyebrows and one inch into your skull. The Third Eye Chakra is associated with your inner vision, wisdom, and knowing. When the Third Eye Chakra is balanced, you’re able to see with clear perception, have a positive view of the future, and tap into your truest desires and deepest wishes.
Connect to the Third Eye Chakra by practicing focus, balance, and yoga poses or meditation with closed eyes.
Affirmation: I focus my awareness on my intuition, intention, and imagination.
Tree Chakra Poses (Vrksasana)
- Stand on both feet evenly.
- Take three clearing breaths.
- Transfer your weight to your left foot.
- Turn your right knee out and open to the side.
- Bring your right foot to your left ankle, calf muscle, or upper inner thigh.
- Bring your palms together at your heart or raise your arms overhead.
- Focus your eyes straight ahead on something that’s not moving. This is your drishti.
- Hold for one to two minutes and then switch sides.
- For an added challenge, try closing one or both eyes as you practice this pose and see how it goes!
Visshudha (Throat Chakra)
The Throat Chakra is location at the throat and neck and is associated with the mouth and ears. The Throat Chakra is associated with communication and truth. When the Throat Chakra is balanced, it is easier to stand up for yourself, to speak your truth, and to listen with compassion.
Connect to the Throat Chakra with doing neck stretches, chanting mantras, and enjoying silent meditation.
Affirmation: I speak truth to others and to myself with clarity and compassion.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) with Neck Rolls and Lion’s Breath
- Come down onto your belly.
- Bend your elbows, rest them on your mat, and align your elbows directly under your shoulders.
- Allow your palms to face down or up, whichever feels better for you.
- Roll your shoulders back and down.
- Press down into your elbows and lift your chest up.
- Tilt your chin down toward your chest.
- Begin to gently roll your chin shoulder to shoulder in half or full circles.
- Continue for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Finish with three Lion’s Breaths:
- Inhale and scrunch up your face.
- Exhale and open your eyes and stick out your tongue. Imagine really letting something go!
Anahata (Heart Chakra)
The Heart Chakra is located at the center of the chest and beams out into the shoulders, arms, and hands. The Heart Chakra is associated with all forms of love, including compassion, kindness, passion, and self-love. When the Heart Chakra is balanced, generosity comes naturally, and self-care is a priority.
Connect to the Heart Chakra with chest-opening poses and shoulder stretches.
Affirmation: I am open to love.
Wild Thing Pose (Parsva Vashistasana)
- Come to plank pose (the top of a push up position), balancing on your hands and toes.
- Lift your right leg up and step it over and behind your left. Keep your left leg straight and your right leg bent.
- Allow your right hand to lift up and back.
- Arch your back, lift your chest, and tip your head back as far as is comfortable.
- Bring your right hand to your chest for a moment of Heart Chakra connection, then reach out again to energetically send love in all directions.
To improve your meditation, Read about Self-Improvement Advice: Meditation
Is Self-Compassion the Recipe For Optimal Health?
Self compassion as said by Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, once said that “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” If we change the ingredients in our life’s recipe and include some self-compassion, we might be pleasantly surprised with the end results! But what is this thing called self-compassion?
For some people, the term self-compassion sounds self-indulgent; that is, those who practice self-compassion are self-absorbed and care mostly about themselves. However, that is far from the truth. Self-compassion, according to the guru of the concept, Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion and the author of several books, including Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, consists of three elements:
- Being aware of negative feelings, emotions, thoughts, and experiences but not judging them.
- Granting yourself the same kindness and understanding you would to those whom you love and care for when you experience human imperfections.
- Recognizing that everyone is imperfect and that everyone shares a common humanness and degree of suffering.
Individuals who don’t practice self-compassion may be characterized as having feelings of isolation, unhealthy perfectionism, self-judgment, stress, and depression. When we look at these opposites of self-compassion, it raises the question, what effects could this have on physical health?
The idea that practicing self compassion supports and promotes healthy mental and emotional well-being has been around for about a decade, and the concept has been supported by numerous research studies.However, there is a growing school of thought that self-compassion also has an integral role in physical health.
Self-compassion and stress
People who possess higher levels of it have a healthier response in stressful situations, according to a joint US-UK study. Rather than become upset while sitting in a traffic jam or when they have been passed over for a promotion, they dedicate less time to reviewing the situation. This ability to bypass chronic stressful situations has a direct impact on physical health, including factors such as blood pressure, muscle tension, and blood sugar. Individuals who have a healthy control of their response to stress are less likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy behaviors that can affect physical health.
Other research suggests that self-compassion can enhance a person’s desire to improve or change their life. If you realize you are overweight and need to drop some pounds to improve your chances of longevity and reduce risk of heart disease, for example, a healthy sense of self-compassion can be the trigger you need to take the necessary steps to lose weight and enhance your life rather than give up and sit on the couch.
The findings of a recent Australian study suggest that self-compassion moderates the association between depression and perfectionism, two important aspects of self-confidence. The authors indicated that “self compassion interventions may be a useful way to undermine the effects of maladaptive perfectionism,” although additional research is needed in this area.
Self compassion vs self-confidence
According to Eric Barker, author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, self-compassion actually beats self-confidence. He noted in a recent New York Times article that “We like confidence because it feels good and gives us a sense of control.” Self-confidence makes you feel good about your abilities. However, it also may cause you to significantly overestimate those abilities.
Self compassion, on the other hand, encourages you to face your limitations and to look more closely and objectively at them. For this reason, although both self-compassion and self-confidence are good qualities, experts tend to believe that self-compassion encompasses the best parts of self-confidence while leaving the drawbacks behind.
In addition, Barker notes that culture tends to encourage faking confidence without thinking about the consequences of that line of thinking. For example, if you fake self-confidence, you may actually believe the lie, which can result in unpleasant outcomes.
How to become more self compassionate
Among the key steps to take to improve your self compassion is paying attention. When you are fully aware of your thoughts—your self-talk, whether you are judging yourself and others, if you have compassionate thoughts about yourself and others—you are better equipped to evaluate your situation, to forgive and recognize the humanness of all people, including yourself, and show yourself kindness.
It is important that you take the time to be kind to yourself; to take a walk, establish strong bond with loved ones, engage in activities that reduce stress and anxiety, nurture your spirit, immerse yourself in nature, dance, do yoga, or meditate. These and other activities can help you become more self compassionate and fully recognize your value to yourself and the world.
Sourced from naturallysavvy.
Two Tricks for Would-Be Meditators
I’ve carved out time and space in my home for Meditators Tricks. But, I still find it so easy to avoid it! Are there any tricks that can help?
You didn’t hear it from us, but yes, there are a couple of good tricks. First: don’t be ashamed to dial back your sit-time. As they say, the best practice is the one you’ll actually do, so if you can only sit for 10 minutes, and not 25 or 30, then go with 10. And here’s a great little cheat if you can’t get yourself to do even that: simply commit to get into your meditation posture daily.
You don’t have to actually meditate, or spend any particular amount of time there—but keep doing it. In time, it will feel more familiar and you’ll be less resistant to actually meditating.
All that said, if there’s something else that’s keeping you from sitting, like physical pain or the sense that your time on the cushion is actually counterproductive, honor that. If your meditation is without discernible benefit, use that time for something you can feel good about instead. Meditators Tricks.
Start-up for the Things That You Need To Know Before You Go On A Meditation Retreat
HOW TO MEDITATE: SIMPLE MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.
Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
Close your eyes. We recommend using one of our Cooling Eye Masks or Restorative Eye Pillows if lying down. Meditators Tricks.
Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.
This may explain the Reasons Why You Are Exhausted All The Time
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods. If you’d like to follow along with a Meditation for Beginners DVD, we can help with that. Meditators Tricks.
- Three 20-minute practices
- Includes a yoga practice
- Lead by certified instructor Maritza
- One low price! Shipped right to your door.
Good use of Yin Yoga Sequence To Calm You Down
Originally Published: www.lionsroar.com
Leaving the Shore of Illusion
Everyday Mindfulness: 7 Steps to Deepening Presence in Daily Activities
Fortunately, with some minor tweaks to your attention, everyday activities can become a fertile field for cultivating awareness and present-moment witnessing. It becomes a matter not of what activity you’re engaged in, but rather the quality of attention you bring to that activity. When you begin to shift out of your repetitive thought stream, any activity can become a more conscious and profound experience. Let’s explore the following steps as tools to make everyday experiences more mindful.
- 1. Intend to Infuse Your Activity with Attention
- 2. Be Aware of Your Breathing
- 3. Place Your Attention in Your Body
- 4. Focus on One (or More) of Your Senses
- 5. Notice the Details
- 6. Ask Yourself, “Who Is Having This Experience?”
- A version of the profound soul question, “Who am I?” this question shifts your attention away from the experience itself to who is having it. In the middle of any activity, put your attention on who it is that is experiencing the activity. In doing this, you cultivate the witness—not just as a function of your consciousness, but as an actual presence, your soul. In this experience, known as Atma Darshan or “glimpsing the soul,” all your roles, titles, labels, positions, and possessions fall away and you know yourself simply as the ever-present witness to the awareness at the core of your being, all beings, and the entire universe.
- Might read this as well Live One Day at a Time
- 7. Cultivate Metacognition
1. Intend to Infuse Your Activity with Attention
Think of anything you do on a daily basis and ask yourself how often you set a clear intention prior to beginning that task. Your intention is an almost subconscious autopilot that runs behind the scenes. However, if you bring forth a conscious intention for the activity you’re engaging in, it will activate additional attention on what it is you’re doing. Better yet is to have the intention for increased attention on the task at hand. Begin your activity with the following affirmation: I am awake and aware; I choose to be fully present as I ___________.
This may interest you as well Your Potential Starts with Your Beliefs
2. Be Aware of Your Breathing
One of the reasons so many meditation traditions focus on the breath is because it is always with you; as long as you live, you breathe. The breath, therefore, is an ever-present anchor to the present moment. By bringing your awareness into the fullness of each breath, you ground yourself in the here and now. Deep, full breathing calms the mind, soothes the body, and takes you into the timelessness eternity of each moment. In the middle of any activity that is pulling your mind into the past or the future, settle into your breath and come home to the now.
3. Place Your Attention in Your Body
It’s important to remember that you don’t have a body and a mind—you have a body-mind. The body-mind is a unified, inseparable whole being that is in a state of constant communication with itself at every level. Described by the yogic sage Patanjali as the Annamaya Kosha, the physical body is the sheath or layer of life made of food that serves as your most intimate instrument for experiencing the physical world. When you shift your attention to your body, you begin to eavesdrop on a symphony of sensations, textures, pressures, temperatures, and movements. Think about it, nearly all of your waking energy is directed outward. When you turn your awareness inward (as you do during the practice of yoga), you begin to have a genuine in-body experience. Feeling the body during any activity or experience helps you to be more mindful and aware of the here and now.
A good article to read about Exploring by Yourself
4. Focus on One (or More) of Your Senses
Your sense organs are gateways through which the external world is metabolized into your own subjective experience. Each sense is a wonder to behold, a universe in itself. By shifting all your attention to the input received by one specific sense, you become aware of all the subtle nuances, vibrations, and levels contained within just one small sliver of your perceptual apparatus. You also begin to recognize the sheer magnitude of information pouring into your senses at any given moment. This blend of sensory impressions is totally unique, moment by moment. It has never been before and will never come again, so be sure to give it your most precious resource—attention.
5. Notice the Details
Look around you. What do you see? At first glance you may see objects or people in your environment, the large ‟stuff” of the material universe. But look deeper. Everything you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel is made up of molecules, atoms, vibration of energy within an infinite field of consciousness. Details stacked upon details organized in hierarchies from the invisibly small to mind-bogglingly large, all governed by the laws of nature. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, let your awareness penetrate deeply into everything you notice. A vast universe of amazing complexity and fascinating detail lies in front of you, waiting to be unmasked.
6. Ask Yourself, “Who Is Having This Experience?”
Might read this as well Live One Day at a Time
7. Cultivate Metacognition
Metacognition means thinking about thinking, knowing about knowing, or becoming aware of your awareness. It is essentially the act of putting your attention on your thinking process and understanding the manner in which your mind generates and perpetuates your moment-by-moment thought stream.
Ask yourself another question—how often do you watch or pay attention to the activity of your mind? Unless you’re trained in some form of contemplative practice, it is unlikely that you do this very often. Instead, you often are led around by your mind, the repetitive thoughts you have day to day, and the karmic programming that hums along in the background. When you put your attention on the content of your thoughts, however—where the thoughts came from, their associations, or how they make you feel when you think them, for example—you step out of the thought stream and are able to witness those thoughts without judgment. As the philosopher Krishnamurti once said, “Observation without judgment is the highest form of intelligence.” In mindfulness traditions, this state is also known as open monitoring. This practice can be performed during any activity and will bring a meditative quality to any experience.
Now that you have the tools to enliven awareness during activity, think of the following everyday activities as a playground for mindfulness. On the surface they may appear mundane, or even boring, but if you look closer you see that each contains a bounty of present-moment opportunities, just waiting to be embraced.
- Doing the dishes. Unless you like dirty pots and pans piled high in your sink, washing dishes is a task that always needs to get done, but that you likely don’t enjoy. Yet when you infuse the doing the dishes with your full attention this activity filled with opportunities for presence. The sensations of hot water, soap, and rinsing—all anchored to the breath—are deeply mindful moments. In addition, this practice also provides the chance to experience gratitude for the meal or food that was prepared or served from those dishes.
- Waiting in line. Society gives you ample chances to wait in line. At the grocery store, doctor’s office, or in traffic, these pauses in your activity are a perfect time to look deeper, feel your body, or tune into the witness within. You likely fight against the wait and often cause yourself to suffer with impatience. Instead, why not use waiting as a chance to connect more deeply with the present moment?
- Taking a shower. A daily shower is often an activity you rush or plot through as you mindlessly follow a set routine for cleaning your body. But consider all the opportunities for tuning into your senses as you wash your hair and body—the possibilities for paying attention to the sounds, sights, and sensations of the water, or as the witness experiencing it all.
- Driving to and from work. Your daily commute is often an autopilot experience with a regular route, radio station or music, or perhaps a meal or coffee along the way. Instead, why not use the daily drive as a chance to focus on the experience of driving? Consider consciously controlling a 2-ton vehicle with all its intricate parts, the physics behind the internal combustion engine, or marvel at how your mind is able to perform the complex act of driving in rush hour traffic with thousands of other motorists.
- Eating a meal. Mindful eating is a practice unto itself. Suffice it to say that using the tools mentioned above to practice mindful eating opens entirely new dimensions in your relationship to food and how you nourish your body. In addition, it is an incredible opportunity to practice stillness and go within during an inherently social activity.
- Walking a pet. Walking a dog or cat adds a new level of experience to the practice of mindful walking. It provides opportunities to enliven your senses, notice the details, and focus on your breathing, all while interacting with your pet and the environment. In addition, animals are much more deeply rooted in the present moment, providing yet another doorway into deepening the awareness that connects you.
- Doing the laundry. While some consider doing the laundry and exercise in drudgery, infused with attention, this activity can also be a portal into higher awareness. Whether it’s the feel of the clothing, the smell of the clean (or dirty) garments, or contemplating the complex and far-reaching chain of events that led to you owning a particular item, you are free to experience any moment from a deeper perspective.
Although these are common examples of everyday mindfulness, these tools can be applied to any activity. When you make everyday experiences mindful, you take the ordinary ‟stuff” of your life and transform it into a pathway toward enlightenment.
Originally Published: chopra.com
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