Quite a few people have told me that they were no good with meditation because they can’t sit still or support the 'doing nothing'. The curios thing about this is that some of them were a life-long atendees in different religious celebrations and prayers. I know that they can sit still and pray, think, contemplate nature, etc. So what makes them think they cannot? One reason is this fear of new, unknown, unverified. When we look at meditative experience as unexplored and new, it may seem 'potentially dangerous' to us. What if it destroys our beliefs and strong faith?
One good thing about a skinny meditation is that it comes free of attachments and it is also available to people who do not practice any religion. Some call it 'connecting with God, Creator', others 'finding own Source', or 'connecting to the Universal Energy', and so on. Finding alignment, peace, healing, relief, strength, etc, is common to all and it is a natural tendency for a human being to practice, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not. It can be as simple as finding a comfortable posture, concentration on your breath, and here you go, meditating. Some people use mantras, and others go with prayers to arrive to the results of calm within, and alignment with their source. And some stay in a simple contemplative silence.
So what is mindfulness and why do we mostly connect it with meditation?
When we live our lives comparing our wealth, health, social status, gadgets, achievements, and desiring constantly for the future to arrive, while ignoring the present moments, is bringing stress and unhealthy tension into our lives. We roll the wheels as hamsters in their cages, and too often, we don’t even realize it. We keep living with images of our desired future, and we let ourselves see present as inconvenient and undesired state that should be overcome, and used for planning, comparing with others and just a pass period for something more.
I used to think that mindfulness was inevitably connected with meditation, and that was confusing to me. Knowing too little, and having almost no time for myself, I ignored them both.
Today I know that we can choose to live life mindfully, and/or use meditation practices with mindfulness if we desire so. I also know that staying in the moment without browsing through an agenda is a gift that we can give to ourselves when ever we want to.
When I practice mindfulness meditation, I simply exercise focusing my awareness on one detail only and let my thoughts flow by. This is a great training to taste life in a different, calmer, more present way. My mind and body are reconnected with one present moment. It feels calming and reenergizing. It takes some time for a busy person to feel naturally driven to the practice, but its positive effects are instantly noticed and it is for the effects that this simple practice is worth every attention. These enormous benefits from tiny moments of the day are reducing stress levels in body and mind, help us focusing better on tasks at hand, drive us to gain a clearer perspective over what is essential in our day. We successfully calm our emotions, and because of being more connected with our real selves, it is easier to be more flexible facing any challenge that comes our way.
When I simply notice what is happening within and around me, acknowledge situations, feelings that arise, appreciate the moment of present activity and people that pop into my life, I choose to respond to life in more authentic ways, and take actions that are direct reflection of my desires and needs. Responding to sudden challenging situations mindfully brings a lot of personal satisfaction.
Living mindfully, means simply that we are ready to take responsibility for making our today a better one, and appreciate it for ourselves and for those around us. We become aware that every moment counts in building a better life. Mindful living brings immediate effect as it helps us reset our mind to see things that we were seeing as each move we make today is bringing value into our life today and will be part of our consciously built future, which we want to live. This means, when we eat our food, we are aware of each bite we take and chewing it, savoring the taste of every bite, knowing that our food is good for keeping us healthy and in good shape for many years to come. It means that when we exercise, we find pleasure in it every moment and at the same time we are aware of the benefits for our body, mind and spirit. With one breath that is taken in by a mindful person, the feeling of calm can be created even in the most turbulent moments of the day. I think that is awesome. So how do I see a mindful person?
A mindful person accepts the responsibility over her life and actions that affect self and others. He or she is not living on hopes or clinging on others to receive a portion of happiness from them.
When living mindfully one realizes that we always have a choice to either walk away from a negative situation or to acknowledge and redirect own emotions instead of letting them loose and risking to hurt someone with harmful responses. This would lead to the contrary of what we want. There is a great feeling of freedom in choosing how to respond to situations, people and events.
Meditation is a good practice, but it doesn't depend on what package you are choosing it, or not, you can try to simply live your life in a more mindful way.
Purposely focusing our attention on the ‘here and now’, appreciating and accepting what is, without judgement, may sound silly at the beginning, but if you give it a try, you will soon see the positive effects. Not only will your happiness levels rise, you will feel more at ease with the hectic world that you are living in, and with yourself, your way of being. And isn’t that what we really want in life?
Those of us who are naturally anxious, may notice that we get less involved in worries about the future and we let the past be without regrets. The success of usual measures is not important any longer. Comparing with other people is not our game any more, and appreciation of self and others in our natural beauty is so strong that it becomes a way of life that we don’t ever want to leave. So, if relieving stress and improving wellbeing isn’t enough for you to be convinced, you might want to learn about other benefits that have been contributed to use of Mindfulness: it improves your sleep, reduces chronic pains and lowers blood pressure, improves relationships, helps leaning out of no-longer-useful habits, like overeating, or substance use.
I believe that mindfulness is a good way to get people to accept their reality, experience, even the most painful emotions, instead of reacting to negativity with resentment and avoidance. It helps us gain perspective on our self-defeating thoughts. Its goal is to be alert, focused while being relaxed and emotionally neutral, and paying special attention to our thoughts and sensations as per what is, and in absence of judgement. Our mind is then able to stay in present. I find it easier to start cultivating mindfulness while meditating. Soon it becomes part of your every moment, but starting with small portions of it during meditation it makes the change more softly integrated in your life.