Mindful Meditation - Practicing the Power of Now
Practicing the power of now in mindful meditation greatly benefits your mental and spiritual well-being as well as your physical health.
Meditation mindfulness is an inherent part of all meditation practices. The trick is to bring mindfulness or presence into as many moments you can during the rest of your day.
Why is this important?
When your mind is focused on the present moment it is free of stress. Dis-stress limits your ability to heal and create. It challenges and blocks your body mind resources.
When you are at ease, your energies focus on healing, problem solving and attracting your conscious desires.
Whether your goal is inner peace, holistic healing or creating a life you love, being present is the state of mind you want to experience more often than not.
Unfortunately, less experienced meditators get discouraged by a common plague of mindful meditation called 'monkey mind'. We sit with the best of intentions, chanting "Aum" and following our breath only to be distracted by constant mental chatter about the past or future. This makes it almost impossible to focus on what is present for more than a few moments and reduces the benefits of meditation.
Not to be outdone by monkey mind, I figured there had to be a way to enjoy the benefits of meditation mindfulness and practice presence without this frustration. Here's what I learned:
How to Practice Mindfulness
- Be okay with lapses in focus. Mental distractions are to be expected. Just bring your mind gently back without getting stressed out about it. What you resist, persists. Expect forays, welcome them even, and then redirect your focus.
- Experiment with different meditation styles until you find the right match for you. Mindful meditation practices are not 'one size fits all'. You may find that a walking meditation, mindful exercises, or guided meditation quiet your monkey mind enough to help you relax and become present for most of it. Hypnosis audios work along the same lines. Some guide you all the way through, and others give you a few quiet minutes to follow your breath or visualize on your own.
- Brain entrainment audios help quiet your mind. They either have a sound like a metronome keeping the beat, or a technology called bi-aural beats that slow your brain waves. Brain entrainment simulates true meditation and helps you reach brain wave frequencies that experienced meditators achieve only after years of practice.
- You do not have to sit up straight or cross your legs for long periods of time. It probably is not a good idea to meditate lying in bed if you want to do a longer meditation, as you will probably fall asleep. Do find a comfortable spot. A recliner, a cushion or two on the floor, or a nice chair all work fine. I like to use my brain entrainment CD while taking a hot bath.
- Create moments of mental presence throughout the day. Practicing the power of now can be done at any time and any place. It is better to experience a few seconds of meditation mindfulness over none. You may not achieve the deep states known to those who meditate for hours, but the benefits are still appreciable. Here are a few ways to do that: Anytime you are waiting, close your eyes and take a deep focused breath. Notice your feet and feel the floor below them. Observe what you are thinking. Name what you are hearing, seeing, touching. These are fun ways to pass the time.
Walking Mindful Meditation
Walking mindful meditations are great because they give your body something to do. Practicing the presence of now in mindful meditation is easy when you have engage your body and your senses.
My most enjoyable meditation mindfulness routine came together as I was riding my bicycle.
Here is how to practice mindfulness as you walk (or do just about anything else):
- Focus on one sense at a time and just notice for a minute or so. Start with any sense you like. Seeing or hearing are the two easiest.
- Begin by noticing everything you hear (or see). Give your full attention to each individual sound for as long as you like. Really tune in to the sounds within and around you. You will be amazed how much you hear that you normally tune out.
- When your mind starts to wander, bring it back or move on to the next sense. Repeat with all your senses. Or choose just one or two.
- To end, become aware of all your senses. Be aware of what you feel, see, hear, taste and smell all at once for just a few moments.
This meditation is not limited to walking. Try it while you ride your bike or sit on your porch. Notice what you feel as you shower. Take a minute to notice all you see while waiting for the light to change as you sit in your car. At the next light, notice what you hear. Perhaps at another light, focus on your breath and how it feels going in and out of your body. How does it sound. Don't control it, just observe.
If you are with someone else, really look at them and listen to her. Tune in and sense her energetically. What do you notice? How has your awareness of this person shifted?
Enjoy meditation mindfulness while eating a meal. Give your focused attention to each bite. Notice the smells, tastes and texture of your food. Be attentive as you lift the food into your mouth, chew and swallow it. Do this for each mouthful, or as long as you like.
As you can see, mindful meditation is not about any particular method. At best, practicing the power of now is woven throughout your day. It doesn't really matter what you focus on or for how long. What matters is that you train your mind to attend to the present moment, which is all there really is. Being mindful and present is one key of spiritual well-being.
Healthy? Happy? Relaxed? Matt Clarkson is offering a no cost mini course teaching simple meditation exercises for busy people. Each part gives you an exercise, inspirational message or tip to help you calm the mind and reduce stress.
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