As promised, I embarked on the practice of mindfulness meditation to learn useful techniques on how to deliberately change our state of mind. The practice serves as a navigator through the ups and downs of life, transcending the fear and seeing things or the problem as they are. Meditation takes you to a place deep within yourself, a bridge to your inner wisdom that assists you to stabilize the distress. The optimal formula to nurture the best version of yourself.
At its core, the concept of mindful meditation is nothing more than being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. It is not always about sitting in the Burmese position, (mind you it does help) and chanting a mantra but to be present at the moment. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes in “Catastrophe Living”, unless you change your way of looking at things, no type of meditation will be effective in the long run. He frames a set of 7 fundamental attitudes that will help with the practice of being present. Non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go are to be part of your frame of mind to channel your energies and reach an alpha state. I will dive deeper into each of these attitudes in my upcoming “Mind Series”.
Clearly, the practice needs commitment! In the beginning, it will be very hard to include the above attitudes in your thought process, but simply keeping them in mind and applying them in small increments in your day-to-day ways, from eating habits to rituals or working systems will eventually be ingrained in your thinking.
- A good place to start is to take notice of your daily habits. For instance, pay attention to what you are eating as if it is for the first time that you are seeing or tasting that food. You can try with just one fruit or any other produce that you like. This exercise involves minding one moment to another and can be extended to other tasks and routines.
- Intentionally, build up your efforts and set aside a time during the day to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing.
- Taking notice of the breath is the anchor that shifts our battling mind and anxieties to a relaxing and calming stage. The turbulence is still there but even if it’s for a few minutes this exercise enables you to reconnect to your ability to stay calm.
- Diaphragmatic breathing – the idea is to intentionally contract the diaphragm muscle and relax your belly during the inhalation so that it is rising and deflating on exhalation. Lie down on your back or stretch out on a recliner put one hand on your belly. Bring your attention to your hand and feel it move. Practice for 15 minutes every day. (“The power of Breathing, Jon Kabat-Zinn)
- The other way of practising mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of your breath during the day.
- Kindly observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment and turn your focus on your breath each time you start dwelling on them.
- Note the persistent thoughts, detect the emotional threats of the self-centred sentiments, anger, hate or different moods.
- Recognize that what comes to your mind is only a thought and by re-directing your attention to your breath, you will detach any value to the lingering thought and gradually you will have the strength to intentionally let go of the negative emotions and calm your brain.
The whole process is not about pushing the unwanted emotions or thoughts away but cultivating the courage to see as they are. Meditation is about acceptance of the contents of your mind, regain calmness to reach the peaceful brain wave and find clarity.
Explore your rhythms and pulses and in concert with your restyled thinking at the same time integrating gratitude, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, generosity and tolerance, steadily, you can lead a robust lifestyle.