I’m sure many of you will be able to relate when I say, I am pulled in many directions these days. All the many different areas of my life compete for attention at any given moment: family, work, relationships, friendships… toss in health maintenance, fitness, cooking / eating, finances, pets, creative and intellectual outlets… and you’ve got yourself quite a chopped salad of life.
The thing is, I know that it is possible to find peace in the chaos of life in a very simple and easy way.
Meditation is the ONLY thing that keeps me from splitting into fragments. It is the glue that binds me to myself, over and over again.
Yes, I mediate every day. Yes, it brings me peace. Yes, some days I only do five minutes — that’s all! Five minutes!
It is not a miracle. It won’t change any of your outside circumstances or change the way other people act toward you.
It will, however, change your relationship with yourself and allow you to have some perspective on events and relationships that you might not have if you’re constantly being fragmented.
All you need is your breath and five minutes. If you want, you can work your way up to 20 minutes or longer, but the most important thing is not to set goals like that. Just do what you can. Breathe. Be present.
Stop beating yourself up for five minutes a day, and see what great changes might come about.
How to Practice Simple Mindfulness Meditation
It can be easier to learn mindfulness meditation by focusing your awareness on only one sensation, object, or thought, such as your breath, a candle, or the concept of forgiveness. Set aside a quiet spot to practice and wear comfortable, nonrestrictive clothes.
- Sit in a comfortable position on a folded blanket, bolster, or firm cushion. You can also sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor and your hands resting in your lap. Adjust your position so your spine is erect. Sit with your head, neck, and spine in one straight line.
- Close your eyes.
- Begin to steady your breath by inhaling for a count of five and exhaling for five. After a few of these deep breaths, breathe naturally again. Notice the way the air feels as it travels in and out of your body through your nose.
- Continually bring your awareness back to your breath, in and out, in and out.
- Do not force yourself to concentrate. Simply notice when your mind wanders, and then gently bring your awareness back to your breath. Consistently returning to the present moment takes patience and dedication.
- Be careful not to punish yourself for wandering thoughts. Thinking is the natural state of your mind. Meditation is not a competition. If you find yourself thinking, simply say to yourself, “Thinking,” acknowledge that you were indeed thinking, then return your focus to your breath.
- Now bring your awareness to the object of your focus. This might still be your breath. If it’s an object, like a candle, soften your gaze.
- Maintain your awareness. When your thoughts start to wander, gently guide them back to the object of your focus. Don’t fight the thoughts. Simply acknowledge them and let them pass, like clouds floating by or like ocean waves.
- Do this exercise for 10 minutes a day, gradually extending your sessions to 20 or 30 minutes.
- Start small! Even 1-2 minutes a day will bring you great benefits, when practiced every day.
- Don’t get too comfortable. You don’t want to fall asleep! If you easily doze off when trying to meditate, take the necessary steps to address fatigue and sleep problems outside of your meditation practice.
- Meditation should be used in conjunction with conventional medical or psychological care, not as a substitute for it. If you are suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety, an eating disorder, or other psychological or emotional distress, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional before practicing meditation.
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