Mindfulness meditation is the process of being present to how you feel, in your body and your mind, and learning to gently accept what you find. As you observe yourself, you begin to realize that sensations and emotions are temporary - and that you have a choice in how you respond to them. The journey of self-mastery begins with this.
The most important things to remember, when practicing meditation:
- Meditation isn't something you can be good or bad at. There is no end goal, no one specific meditation experience that you're trying to achieve. Somedays the experience will be joyful, others it will be more difficult. Both are valuable.
- Your mind will wander during meditation. This is completely natural. It honestly doesn't matter how many times your mind wanders (whether it's 2 or 20 or 200), what matters is how you gently you can bring it back. When you notice that it's happened, simply say "thinking, thinking" to yourself (as a way of noting it without judgement), return to the point of focus, and begin again.
- When in doubt, come back to the breath. Focusing on your breath is the simplest form of meditation - and also one of the most rewarding. You can choose to observe the rise and fall of your chest and stomach, or the sensation of the air being drawn into your nostrils. Both are tangible and easy to bring your attention to. The mere act of focusing on the breath will help slow it down.
Your meditation doesn't need to be a 20 minute session. If it is, wonderful. But it can be just as worthwhile to practice small moments of mindfulness throughout the day. Consider them a reset, similar to switching your computer off then on again.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to reset is to shift your attention from your head (where stress is predominantly held) down to your feet. This guided meditation takes you through the process of doing it in a chair, but you can also practice the technique while standing. This body scan (as we like to call it) is a foundational meditation technique and one that we also employ in longer sessions, to relax the body before moving into a visualization exercise to calm the mind.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
~ Jack Kornfield