An abundance of meditation types exist in the world, and all one has to do is set aside a little time each day to study a meditation technique and its focus. One of the more popular kinds is called mindfulness meditation.
When the bookish New York Times is reporting about the value of mindfulness meditation, then one can assume that the subject is of timely interest, value and something the reader should learn more about.
Discovering The Present Moment
The sitting practice of mindfulness meditation isn't about emptying the mind or allowing it to wander. Instead, the technique trains the mind to focus on the present moment but to do it with acceptance and not judge the situation of one's own experience.
Psychology Today explains the practice as teaching the meditator to halt the perpetuation of unnecessary suffering. That is something that happens when human beings try to escape the consequences of discomfort and challenges that occur just from merely being alive.
It isn't about running away from the struggles but finding the knowledge in the present to change the things that need to be altered. The same is true for one's happiness. Instead of worrying about stretching the good times into forever, it's being comfortable with pleasant experiences in the moment and bringing mindfulness into the present.
Mindfulness meditation does not stop at the cushion. In other words, the practice should extend into all areas of one's life. The meditation should train one to be "awake, present and openhearted in everything" one does in daily living, says meditation teacher Tara Brach from Washington, D.C.
Understanding Long-Respected Origins
Mindfulness meditation is both Buddhist-and-Hinduist-inspired and has been practiced for thousands of years beginning in Eastern religious and spiritual institutions. It also has roots in yoga, and today, the meditation technique is more recently performed as a non-religious meditation.
In fact, mindfulness (Sati) is considered to be the first step towards enlightenment in Buddhism.
Mindfulness meditation slowly moved from East to West and by the 1970s, had found its way to New England. Jon Kabat-Zinn played a major role in developing the meditation technique at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
In 1979, Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness there and also established the Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training.
Kabat-Zinn had learned mindfulness meditation through a number of influential Buddhist teachers, including Thich Nhat Hanh. He developed MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, an 8-week program designed to reveal one's inner calm and reduce their stress levels.
Many thank Kabat-Zinn for helping spread the popularity of mindfulness meditation throughout the West.
Picking A Comfy Spot And Relaxing
Basic mindfulness meditation is not meant to be intimidating and is simple to try with six basic steps.
Step One. Finding a comfortable place to sit is key with a posture that is both relaxed and alert. The spine is to be kept straight without being rigid. A specialised meditation cushion or meditation stool is perfect for this.
Step Two. Closing the eyes and taking a few slow breaths to loosen the body is important. Then taking a few more deep breaths and paying attention to the breath's inward and outward movement is key.
Step Three. Observing the sensations throughout the body brings about an awareness, such as feeling cool, hot, discomfort, etc. Being focused on the sensations without fidgeting about is the aim.
Step Four. Now choosing one sensation to focus on, such as the patterns of one's breathing is advised. Paying attention only to the breathing in those moments is key.
Step Five. It is normal for the mind to wander during the meditation. The meditator recognises the distraction and focuses back on breathing in and out. If mind wandering happens again, noticing the thought and returning attention back to the present moment is important.
Step Six. When the meditator has completed their formal meditation practice, whether it's been one minute, 10 or 30 minutes, he or she will open their eyes, and their mindful awareness can continue throughout the day.
Meditation Perfect For Every Age
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced individually or as part of a group. It's an attractive option with a variety of different uses, especially in today's world of ever-changing occurrences, speed in high technology, social challenges and sometimes violent surroundings.
"Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh