a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
One of the meditation techniques that I practice regularly is mindfulness meditation. It is also known as breathing meditation or Vipassana meditation. The essence of mindfulness meditation relies on being fully aware of the phenomena that arises on present moment.
Why it is extremely important to practice mindfulness in daily life?
Practicing mindfulness gives us the luxury of pressing the pause button in our own thoughts, which gives us the liberty to choose how to feel and act. It trained us to observe and analyse our own thoughts objectively without judgement.
For example: someone accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on your shirt. Your instant reaction will be mad at that person. A person who can’t control own thoughts or actions might react badly to this incident. However, by practicing mindfulness, it is easy for us to quickly recognize the anger feeling arises and have the power to choose how to act accordingly to the situation.
By being mindful, we could deal with our emotions in healthy way, living in present moment and have the power to choose to be happy all the time.
Mindfulness Meditation 101
Things you can prepare to make yourself able to meditate comfortably:
- Wear comfortable clothes and pants.
- Use timer (I download Insight Timer apps to keep track on my meditation activities)
- Small cushion/ meditation cushion to help properly aligned your body and reduces the pressure of your knees and ankles during sitting meditation
How to Perform Mindfulness Meditation
For beginners, try to set your timer for 5-15 minutes.
Close your eyes. Focus on the rising and falling of your abdomen. As you inhale, you feel that your abdomen is rising and as you exhale, you feel the falling of your abdomen. You need to take a mental note of your abdomen movement. When you inhale, feel your abdomen gradually rising and take a mental note,” rising.. rising.. rising..” as you exhale, you can feel the falling of your abdomen and take a mental note, “falling.. falling.. falling.”
You can choose to focus on the rising falling abdomen or the inhale& exhale of own breath. This time, I will choose the rising and falling abdomen as the primary meditation object.
There will be time when your mind wanders, maybe you recall your past experiences or think about future. You need to take note and put label on those wandering mind. You take a mental note, “wander.. wander.. wander..” keep taking note on the wandering mind until the wandering mind disappear. After it disappear, then focus back on the rising and falling abdomen.
Obstacle: When our mind wanders, often we get involved in the story which makes our wandering mind getting stronger and stronger, and we are losing control of our own thoughts. We are drown into our own thoughts and sometimes it gets so emotional we get carried away.
Solution: As soon as you are aware that you are getting involved in the story, try to view this story as third person point of view and gently label those wandering mind and take note, “wandering.. wandering.. wandering..” until the wandering mind disappear. You do not have to put label on every stories for example your mind wanders about your parents, you don’t have to label it as “family.. family.. family..” all wandering minds it does not matter the content/ story inside it, all categories into one label (wander).
Obstacle: We get carried away from our wandering mind. We cried because we think about sad moments and it is very hard for us to focus on our primary meditation object (rising falling abdomen).
Solution: Label the emotion as ‘sad’ and we take mental note, “sad.. sad.. sad..” keep noting it without any judgement until the sadness disappear. Then bring back your focus to the rising and falling abdomen.
Obstacle: If you are new to mindfulness meditation, after a week or two, you might see very little benefit from your meditation progress as you are still having challenges controlling your wandering mind. You grow impatience and you might think mindfulness meditation is not suitable for you. You have high expectation of what you gain gain from meditation through short period of time.
Solution: Do not feel discourage and understand that it is normal to have wandering mind. Accept the situation. Even those who meditate regularly for years still have wandering mind. But if you have practiced meditation for years, you will be able to control your wandering mind faster and the mind become quieter.. and quieter. It takes discipline and persistence.
Obstacle: When we sit up straight without changing our posture for more than 10 minutes, we will feel painful and numb sensation in some part of our body. Sometimes the painful sensation distract our focus.
Solution: Use the pain as your secondary meditation object. Observe the pain and take a mental note “pain.. pain.. pain..” keep noting the sensation until the pain gradually disappear then bring back your focus to the rising and falling abdomen. Do not wish the pain sensation to go away but to embrace the pain sensation with open heart. It teaches us the power of acceptance. It changes our relationship with the pain. The more we hate the pain, the more painful it will feel. But once we accept the painful sensation, the pain will disappear eventually and if it doesn’t, it is okay, we have accepted the pain so it is no longer be the factor that disturb our inner peace.
Obstacle: Our leg become numb during sitting meditation. Sometimes it is hard to sit still, the numb sensation disturb our meditation focus.
Solution: Acknowledge this is the challenge of meditation. Same like the first solution, use the numb sensation as the object of your meditation and take a mental note, “numb.. numb.. numb..” if after 15-45 minutes, the numb sensation is getting intense, you may switch your leg pose. It is advisable not to keep changing your pose and to sit still even though your mind asked you to keep changing your sitting pose. This is one of the best way to train your mind to be stronger. Keep changing your sitting pose will only interrupt your mindfulness practice.
Obstacle: During our morning meditation, sometimes we feel extremely sleepy and it is very hard for us to stay focus.
Solution: Open your eyes and see the light from the sun or lamp and take a mental note, “sleepy.. sleepy.. sleepy..” or “seeing.. seeing.. seeing..” until the sleepy sensation disappear. If it does not disappear, try walking meditation.
Mindfulness meditation technique is all about taking note of all the phenomena happening inside us. It is simply being aware of present moment. By putting label and taking note of all the phenomena, it trained us to observe our own thoughts, feelings and actions objectively without putting any judgement. It helps us take control of our own mind and have the liberty to choose how want to feel and act.
Mindfulness meditation technique is one of two meditation techniques that I practice regularly. On my next post, I would like to share another beautiful and powerful meditation technique which helps me to love myself abundantly and cultivate compassion to others. The meditation technique is called, loving-kindness meditation. Stay tuned.