Meditation and Mindfulness
There are many types of meditation; if you already have a practice that you like, continue with it. I recommend starting with 15 minutes of meditation once or twice a day, gradually increasing your time to 30 or 40 minutes. There are stages and phases where we meditate more or less, depending on what is going on in our lives, but an extended period of Being – taking a break from thinking – nourishes deeper aspects of ourselves.
Here is a simple meditation practice:
Sit comfortably with your spine erect, on the floor or in a chair. You should be sitting forward on the chair so your back is not touching anything. Take a few deep breaths to settle; align your Hara. Feel the chair or ground supporting your body.
Focus on your breath, your Hara line, or your posture; this gives your mind something to do without wandering from thought to thought. When thoughts arise, observe them and imagine they are drifting away. Try not to attach to any particular thought. When you notice you are off on train of thought, gently bring your focus back to your hara, breath, or posture. This will be a constant process!
Don’t judge the “success” of your meditation. If you intend to meditate and sit for the allotted period of time, that is a successful meditation. When we have a lot of thoughts our meditation can still be viewed as productive. Like bubbles surfacing from a pond,or toxic fumes outgassing, thoughts and mental energy are being released from our physiology.
A new trend in western medicine is to encourage “mindfulness” and other meditation-based practices for their health benefits. Mindfulness is not the same as meditation, though; in mindfulness you are engaged in activity, and are one with that activity – a focus that is relaxing for our brain and puts us in a mild meditative state. In meditation our awareness is clear but diffused, and we experience a spaciousness within form.
Mindfulness, meditation, and being present are other ways to describe aspects of Being. Our physiology gets disturbed by negative thoughts, held and re-run emotional upsets, and relentless activity. Meditation – taking a Being break - offers a way to counteract the toxic effects of stress on our bodies. It also reconnects us with the deeper aspects of our being and the ultimate transcendent nature of reality.
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