Mindful meditation is probably the most well known of all the meditation styles. It can be the easiest and at the same time the most difficult form of meditating as it requires simply sitting and doing nothing at all. Buddhists believe that mindfulness should be practiced in our everyday routine by allowing the mind to stay calmly in the present moment, being aware of each sensation, object, thought and feeling coming across our path, without reacting in any way to it. It doesn’t matter if you are in a crowded noisy city or at home alone, the focus of mindful meditation is total attention to the present state of reality, whatever that might be.
Although this style can be practiced sitting, lying down or even standing, it is normally done from a sitting position, either on a chair or on the floor. The goal in sitting is to find a position of comfort and balance. Use a straight backed chair, with feet firmly rooted on the ground and the spine erect. On the floor, sit on a comfortable cushion or zabuton*, in a lotus or half lotus posture. Hands can be held in any comfortable position on the thighs, with palms resting up or down, or placed in one of the common mudras for meditation, such as jnana mudra (thumb and forefinger touching at the tip); or in the classic meditative pose in which the hands rest on the lap, right on top of left, and the two thumbs touch each other forming an empty circle.
During mindful meditation the eyes remain lightly or partially closed looking downward at a distance of about three feet. The tongue is placed on the upper part of the mouth so that breathing is done through the nose. Try to put all thoughts of past and future aside and focus only on what is happening in that one precise moment. Feel your breath entering and leaving your body. Pay attention to how each breath is different and changes. Watch every thought cross over your mind like a cloud in the sky. If it helps, name each one as it flows past. It may be a fear, a hope, a worry, an anxiety, whatever it is, acknowledge its presence and let it go. If you find yourself distracted and carried along with a thought, return to focusing on your breathing. Use your breath as your anchor to stop you from drifting like a boat in an open sea. If you begin to feel uncomfortable sensations in your body, such as an ache, or pins and needles, try to observe them passively, as if you are merely an outsider. Make them impersonal. Instead of thinking ”my leg is aching”, say ”there is an ache in the right leg”. Be aware of it, note any change, until it passes. If the pain continues, gently alter your position without judgement or concern, and continue to meditate.
Do not be hard on yourself if you find you cannot fully relax mentally or physically. Even just one minute of mindful meditation can help boost immune function, decrease stress and improve your mood. When you have finished meditating remember to get up slowly and gently, bringing your awareness back to where you are, and try to maintain the feeling of being in the now.
* a zabuton is a traditional meditation mat
Leave a reply →
If you are looking for modern help with traditional meditation, why not check out Serene Mind? This iPhone/iPod Touch app help promote focus and breath control and records your progress. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/tuTMFs