Meditation has a long history, and mindfulness is a hot topic. Of course, there are many different opinions on these subjects—what they are, what they require, what their goals are. But most modern thinkers on the subject believe that you do not have to have a quiet mind to meditate or create a mindfulness practice. Part of being human is having a monkey mind—even those who devote their life to meditation deal with the chatter that happens when we try to “get quiet.” Also, let’s talk about what meditation and mindfulness is. I like the short article in Women’s Health on the subject. Here’s the nutshell:
Meditation is when you intentionally set aside time to do something that’s good for you, and there are all kinds of meditations. Mindfulness is both a general awareness of the world and a formal meditation practice. It’s two things, not one. Meditation and mindfulness overlap in mindfulness meditation, which is one of the most popular types of meditation.
For my purposes, this month is about deliberately setting aside at least five minutes a day to truly pay attention and focus. (Sometimes I might do more in one sitting, sometimes two chunks of five, and sometimes just five.) My goal for myself is to use these short concentrated bits to cultivate a sense of peace and to be more mindful in general. In other words, short-circuit the tendency of having a thought/feeling to immediately acting on that.
The idea is also that by having these bits of concentration, I will have more awareness and presence throughout the day. To that end, I will offer up different ideas for doing this. Short, quick practices that help to cultivate such mindfulness. I agree with this article in the New York Times that these short periods can help a lot. (Also, most of us want to practice meditation as a way to be more mindful generally, rather than having meditation become the focus on life.) Today’s meditation comes from the NYT article.
- Find a quiet spot where you can sit or lie comfortably.
- Set your timer for five minutes (or whatever time you want).
- Take a few moments to consciously relax, letting go of the tension in your shoulders, jaw, and face.
- Focus on your breath.
- Breathe in slowly to a count of three, and breathe out slowly to a count of six.
- Repeat for your allotted time, allowing whatever thoughts to just pass. Don’t fight them and think you’re not doing this practice right. Simply see them, let them go, and return to the focus on your breath.
If you don’t have a full five minutes, just try what you can, where you can.
Let me know if you try it. I’d love to hear what you think!