Meditation is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought, utterly undistracted. It’s a special place where each and every moment is momentous. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a trumpet).
Meditation has been a part of our human lifestyle dating back thousands of years. Many of the modern techniques of meditation can be linked back to Eastern traditions. The term “meditation” refers to a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. This can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Depending on the type of meditation you choose, you can meditate to relax, reduce anxiety and stress, and more. Some types of meditation involve maintaining mental focus on a particular sensation, such as breathing, a sound, a visual image, or a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. Other forms of meditation include the practice of mindfulness, which involves maintaining attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments.
Are you supposed to clear your mind, or focus on one thing? Here’s the Mindful definition of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.
Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:
The basics of a mindfulness practice
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Mindfulness meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.
- Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue. Although the practice of meditation is thousands of years old, and different forms come from around the world, modern science has only started studying this practice in detail during the last few decades. Many experts agree it can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.