People have been Meditating for centuries. Meditations are commonly used to help people relax. That is a helpful tool to use in our daily lives but Meditation is much more than that. The practice of Meditation can be used to teach us to Focus, be Patient, be Present and to Observe what is with no judgement.
Meditations are exercises that we practice that are designed to help focus your thoughts on one thing; perhaps you choose to focus on your breath or on your emotions or on your body sensations. When your mind wanders (it always will) you gently guide your attention back to your object of focus. The point is NOT to NEVER have a wandering mind (you will always have that) but rather to practice NOTICING when your mind wanders and gently guide it back in a non judgemental stance. The more you practice the better you will be at this observation. The more you notice your mind wandering the more you can gently guide it back to the present focus. Over time you will notice that you do not wander as much but that is a benefit not the goal.
This helps you in your daily life when your mind is focusing on something negative for example. Perhaps something has happened in the past or you fear something negative happening in your future or maybe you are focusing on something negative in the present moment. Regardless of what your negative chatter is, you can utilize what you learned with your Meditation practice by directing your focus to something neutral or even Optimistic or maybe you just need to be a neutral observer. Your Meditation practice has taught you to do just that!
Meditation practices can be divided into 3 functional groups. Each group builds on the skills of the previous group. If you are a newcomer to Meditation then start with Mindfulness Meditations for the first 2 weeks or so. Check out the other types…
- Mindfulness Meditations
- Self-Awareness Meditations
- Optimistic Re-Framing Meditations
Start With A Breathing Meditation – A Mindfulness Meditation
Conduct your Meditation practice by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to your breath going in and out. You may even want to say to yourself “in” and “out” as you breathe. Stay on this Meditation for the remainder of your Meditation exercise. When your mind wanders then notice that it has wandered and gently start over. Do not judge yourself because you wandered, just observe that you did and gently start over. In reality when you focus your mind away from your negative chatter you will shift your emotions and improve the way you feel. The ability to start over from this moment on is very helpful when you get caught up in the “drama” of your mind.
Other Types of Mindfulness Meditations: Awareness Meditations
Start with your Breathing Meditation and after a few minutes you can start to observe what is troubling you. Perhaps you are freaked out by your body sensations (your light-headedness or your racing heart) and you think there is some catastrophic illness that if afflicting you. Perhaps you have negative or racing thoughts and they are bothering you. Perhaps you are afraid of your emotions because you somehow think they will overtake your ability to be in control. Remember it’s your negative belief that something is wrong that is causing your negative emotions.
Observing these sensations or thoughts while you meditate and just noting them (not judging them) is what you are doing with this Meditation practice. While you note what is happening for example, you can say “thought”, “thought”, “sensation”, “thought”, “sensation” etc… You are not changing the thoughts or sensations; just observing them. This exercise teaches you not to judge what you observe; just notice them as something neutral. If your mind wanders away with one of these thoughts or emotions or sensations simply guide it back and start over, noting again.
When you release the judgement on your thoughts or sensations or emotions, you are releasing the belief that you have in them and thus you start to release the negative judgement you have about yourself. This is the start of you detaching yourself from the belief that there is something wrong. This is what some people call putting some space or distance between your thinking and reacting.
As I have said before, when you change your beliefs you change your feelings! Meditation can help change your negative beliefs simply by observing them as passing; they are not you they are just thoughts or emotions or sensations.
How Long Should You Meditate?
One does not need to do meditations for extended periods of time for them to become effective. The science tell us that regularity is the key to gaining benefits. Just start off slowly for 10 minutes and then you can work up from there. If you really don’t have 10 minutes to spare then just do 1 minute – Mindfully take 15 slow deliberate breaths.
Practice makes perfect.