What is Meditation & Mindfulness? Is it really about stopping thoughts?
Meditation is a practice of awareness and focus using our five senses and feelings to increase awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness is similar to meditation – the focus is often directed on the task at hand. Mindfulness is often related to external activities such as focusing on your conversations, walking through a beautiful park or even mundane, routine activities like showering, brushing your teeth or washing dishes!
There are many meditation techniques, some that do include reducing or eliminating “mind chatter”. I choose simpler and yet powerful techniques based on breathing, visualization and “loving, kindness and peace” meditation.
Mindfulness and Meditation practices are easy to learn, but to have them become more natural way of our lives requires patience and practice.
Are there benefits to meditation and mindfulness?
Of course there are benefits to meditation and mindfulness! These practices reduce the body’s stress reactions, help us see our thoughts more clearly, and lead to greater resilience in dealing with our daily challenges. They can improve our ability to pay attention to the work we do, with increased efficiency and satisfaction. We can cultivate better relationships.
But Isn’t meditation is a Hindu or non-Christian prayer or practice?
Actually, most religions, including Hinduism and Christianity, advocate some form of contemplative practices as part of their spiritual tradition – some even believe that prayer is a form of meditation. I prefer to stay out of these discussions.
I believe meditation is to the mind; what physical exercise is to the body/muscle tone. Recent scientific research shows that regular meditation (whether it be religious or non-religious) based on visualization, deep-breathing and a relaxed focus help build mental resilience, reduce stress and anxiety. I prefer to focus on these benefits.
I don’t have days and months to spend mastering the technique of meditation!
A good instructor can help you master the basics of meditation and mindfulness practice within a few hours. Most of my students spend 10-15 minutes 5 days a week to recharge and re-energize themselves. You don’t need hours of meditation to acquire these simple and powerful benefits of meditation.
I worry a lot and I doubt that I can sit and focus my mind for even 5-10 mins!
Surprisingly, my experience has been that people who worry constantly tend to be good meditators! I think such people tend to have active imagination. These people can also visualize very well – an ability that is helpful to create vivid and positive images in the mind to relax and energize. Also, meditation is not about “stopping” your thoughts. It is about bringing back awareness and focus to your mind and the thoughts generated.
There are several forms of meditation and mindfulness practices and I encourage you to explore many of them before selecting the one that suits you. If you feel restless sitting down for meditation, I recommend that you try Tai-Chi or Walking meditation.
Do you recommend sitting or lying down for meditation?
I suggest that you sit in a comfortable straight back chair. Lying down for meditation is a good practice if you plan to take a nap or sleep after the meditation sessions. Many of my students prefer to lie down for long 20+ minute meditation sessions.
Are relaxation CD's with nature sounds, i.e. water, bird song, etc. helpful as background while meditating?
Music/ nature sounds are powerful aids to meditation and relaxation. While much research continues on the human brain on different frequencies and beats, music still tends to be a very individual experience. My business partner J S Epperson has a very powerful instinct for music and I feature his music in all my classes. Check out preview of his music.
Is 15 minutes of Meditation enough?
"You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day- unless you are too busy; then you should sit for an hour"
- Old Zen Adage
Jokes apart! Some meditation is better than nothing. If you are consistent about spending at least 10 minutes every day on a mindfulness practice, the practice will grow with time. While I practice 15 minutes of daily meditation, I make time for longer sessions in the weekends or at nights. I feel energized and very productive with these long sessions.
I am not very good at being disciplined BUT I really want to relax. How?Most of my students start their mindfulness/meditation practice by attending my weekly classes at Tribalance Yoga or by listening to guided meditation/music from my website. They incorporate mindfulness by incorporating it in their daily life. Simple examples include - paying attention to brushing their teeth or being mindful when they are taking a shower. With regular practice, you will find it easier and easier to build more time for this activity. Many students find that consistent (not perfect) practice helps them be more calm, resilient, happier and more productive.
Shameless plug – check my contact information below for one-on-one coaching and group lessons.
I already eat healthy, exercise, read and have good friends? How can meditation help me?Good for you! Meditation and mindfulness practices are no substitute for good nutrition, regular exercise and making time for relationships. I personally believe that meditation and mindfulness exercises help me enjoy and keep my healthy eating and regular physical exercise routines going. Being mindful of my personal and professional relationships have helped them grow to bring more love and meaning to my life.
Many of my students report similar benefits because of their consistent practice.
I want to learn more!
Your public library is a great resource for free books, CDs and videos on meditation and mindfulness practice.
Contact me at Sudesh@meditation-magic.com, 847-497-0380.
I offer one-on-one or group coaching. I can help you develop a customized stress reduction program based on your strengths and routines.
Check out my website for guided meditation programs - audio mp3 that you can play on your phone / digital device or CDs for your music system.
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.