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Meditation: The Fundamentals

Setting a routine for “me time” for meditation is an important way to establish a practice. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference to your mental balance and sharpness.  And if other obligations means you don’t have a few minutes a day, then you really need to spend at least an hour meditating!  It’s in the most stressed periods of our lives that meditation is most important.  Because the quality of your thoughts will determine performance and wisdom.

Let’s review some fundamental basis of meditation.  Mindfulness meditation isn’t about not thinking. It’s about keeping your mind in the present moment.  Paying attention is being present and it’s a skill, just like a sport.  Just like golf or bowling.  We all know what it’s like to be with someone who’s not present, not paying attention to you. Their eyes are darting all over, they’re constantly looking for a distraction like their phone.  And they’re not listening.  Their brains, in essence, have too many tabs open.  In this state, nothing gets done.  Relationships are tarnished too as everyone leaves with a negative vibe.

If where you place your attention is where you place your energy, and all of your attention is in the present moment, then you have a lot of energy in the “now”.   Mindfulness practises allows us to tune to the present moment.

Though meditating on your own is an essential part of a complete practice, the guidance of an experienced coach is invaluable, especially for beginners. Our minds wander so easily, and the clear instructions of a teacher can help bring us back to the present moment.

 

WHEN THE MIND WANDERS

It’s definitely going to happen.  During meditation class, your mind will roam. You may notice other sounds outside, worry about something from the past or daydream about your hopes and dreams.  This is perfectly natural.

When it happens, and it will constantly happen, simply acknowledge that your mind is roaming and then take a moment to pause.  You now have a choice to let go of this thought.  Then open your mind again to return to the meditation.

Whatever the disturbance is — a wandering thought, some worry about a future or a sound interruption — just note it.  If you need to move your leg because all the blood has stopped moving, then do so.  But try to stay equanimous.  Don’t beat yourself up for moving.  Don’t criticize your practise because it’s not perfect.  Don’t judge your meditation performance as bad, nor good, pleasant nor unpleasant.  Just acknowledge what you’re going through and come back to the meditation.

Overall, meditation is a deceptively simple exercise — just be paying attention to the present moment. But with practice it can yield profound results, giving us greater proactiveness, self-compassion and equanimity in stressful moments.  With time, mindfulness meditation can even help us better understand what gives us feelings of love and joy.