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Learn how to Practice Mindfulness Meditation and the Different Approaches

Learn how to practice mindfulness and mindfulness meditation

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In this article you will learn how to practice mindfulness and mindfulness meditation using a few different approaches. You will also learn what mindfulness is or at last have a new perspective on mindfulness if you are already familiar with it.

Mindfulness is the art of becoming present with moment to moment experience, on finer and finer levels, without resistance as it arises. This includes thoughts and emotions that try to distract you from the present moment.

Present moment awareness isn’t about shutting down the mind. It’s about changing your relationship with the mind. Thoughts and often unwanted emotions are in the present moment. They are not distractions keeping you from it. The acceptance of thoughts and feelings is the foundation of mindfulness practice.

Exploring what mindfulness is

First, we need to explore what mindfulness is, there are two common definitions. One definition of mindfulness is paying attention to what you are doing, for example, when you are eating a meal you are paying full attention to the taste and texture of the food as you are eating, and you’re also paying full attention to the flavor of the food, being fully absorbed in the act of eating. You are eating mindfully.

The other definition of mindfulness is the one we are using in mindfulness meditation practice. It means to be impartially present with the moment to moment experience as it arises in consciousness. This includes thoughts, emotions, and even feelings of boredom or aggravation, and any other moods or discomforts you might be experiencing.

The ego pushes away uncomfortable experience and clings to what is comfortable and familiar. It will actually bury what it doesn’t want to face or feel. Think of the extreme case of post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s the same process, trauma occurs, the ego doesn’t want to recall the trauma so it buries it. That’s an extreme example.

Mindfulness practice is the opposite of that type of process. The two definitions are actually quite similar, the second can be thought of as an extension of the first, everything you do and all your thoughts are processes happening in the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of non-resistance to what is happening in the now.

It is also the practice of not clinging to ones feelings, emotions, thoughts and even ideals, it’s about non-judgmental observation. Mindfulness meditation practice usually begins with an object of focus and one of the more popular objects of focus is the breath.

In this case you focus on the breath and become deeply absorbed in the feeling of the breath, you can control the breath by breathing deeply or breathing in a certain way or just simply watch the breath as it happens naturally.

The mindfulness part of the practice comes in whenever something distracts you from that object, so in this case a thought or a feeling is distracting you from the breath.

The Art of “Noting”

In some Buddhist traditions they teach you the art of “noting”, if a thought happens you don’t try to get rid of it or try to cling to the breath you take note of it as it happens in the present moment.

The thought is not a bad thing and it’s not a good thing, it just is, it’s just the unfolding of the moment. After noting and being aware of the thought being there you go back to the breath.

In addition to noting, some traditions teach you to label what is happening. You can mentally say to yourself “thinking”, just to register in your mind that thinking is happening in the present moment, it’s happening right now.

If you feel anger you can say “anger”, if you feel worry say “worry or worried”, if restless feelings distract you from your object say “restless”, if you feel tension say “tension” whatever it is that you notice that was trying to take you away from your object of focus.

After noting and or labeling whatever it is that you do, you go back to your breath or your chosen object. Regardless of how you note or label they are just different ways to practice mindfulness meditation, their very very similar, just different styles.

One method is exactly what I described above, you note the distraction as an impartial observer and then you go back to the object. Another way to practice mindfulness is to be present with the thought, feeling or emotion, or sensation a little bit longer, remain aware with it and just calmly observe it, appreciate it, you don’t cling to it nor do you push it away. You can also use labeling if you want to.

The thought could vanish fully or partially because mindfulness and calm in partial observation cause it to lose power over you, after you’ve become aware of it go back to the breath or whatever your chosen mediation object is.

Notice that thoughts often have a sensation associated with them, it may be a feeling in the head or elsewhere. When observing a thought be sure to pay attention to this feeling as well.

The only difference between the two approaches is the length of time you remain aware of the thought, feeling or emotion, or whatever it was that came up.

Allowing Thoughts and Feeling to Coexist

There is one other mindfulness method, and in this practice you just simply allow the thought feeling or emotion to coexist with your meditation object, you still focus on the object without judging what else is happening, so you’re not judging the thought or the emotion.

These things will just rise and fall naturally, sometimes they will have a bigger hold on you and sometimes they will have a lesser hold on you or none at all.

This is like the first type of mindfulness practice but the noting isn’t quite as pronounced, the acknowledgment of thought is still there. There is also no prolonged pause from your object either.

Now I don’t really teach people to do this that much but who knows maybe that’s what you need and you can always try it. In any case whatever style you choose, keep focusing on your mediation object. Some thoughts are going to be really sticky or really enticing, in this case your brain really wants you to stop concentrating, or instead of a thought it could be a really strong feeling that you just don’t want to be here now, you just have to go do something else.

In this case, when it’s a really strong distraction, you may want to drop your object for a little bit longer than usual and then just sit with the thought or the feeling or whatever it is. Try to be as non-judgmental as you can and face it, the less judgmental you are the less power it has over you.

Just remember that this is part of your mediation it’s not keeping you from mediating, this is your mediation.

Mantra Objects

Mediation objects vary a lot and some people repeat a Mantra which is a word or a phrase and they may do this silently or aloud. Others use a visualized image, and some use body sensations.

The mantra I use is simple and easy to remember. ”My Thoughts Are Not My Own, By Intellect Alone I Fail”. I find that this is very effective and the ego seems to fade quickly when I use this Mantra. You can find this manta and a couple others in my blog under affirmations.

If you want to learn more about all the different mediation objects then I also have an audio and article called the “Different Types of mediation techniques” and how to choose one. Plus lots of related posts about mediation and guides for your journey.

Not everyone uses an object in mindfulness practice, Open enquiry mediation is a mindfulness technique in which you impartially observe whatever comes up. A thought may arise and fall away, it will keep your attention as long as it has to and until something else becomes louder or something else just grabs your attention. Then the attention might go to a feeling, it could be a feeling of tension in the body and then your attention moves and then maybe back to another thought.

In this case you’re still playing the impartial observer, you are the sky they are the clouds you are the entire ocean and they are just the waves rising and falling.

Some people practice a variation of mindfulness whenever they can during their daily routines, when eating or doing chores, they are watching their thoughts, maybe when they are shopping they’re watching their thoughts, and they are trying to be as subtle as possible throughout the day. One way to make mindfulness easier is to change the way you think of yourself.

The ego is the thinker and the feeler not you, it is the “I” that is thinking, and your true self is the observer or Atman. The ocean, the sky, however you do your practice keep this in mind. The realization of this “Atman awareness” will become deeper the more you practice mindfulness in mindfulness mediation.

If you would like to learn more about meditation or go even deeper with your meditation journey, I offer books, articles and instructional audios about the different types of meditation, plus online meditation courses available within’s. Premium Online-Learning Academy and it would be my privilege to have you as our newest member.

Related Mindfulness post


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