My parents impressed upon me the value of a good education. Finding a good teacher and combining learned techniques with regular practice moves you towards progress in whatever discipline you pursue. I applied this philosophy to mindfulness training, which has become the most important practice of my life.
When I first discovered the term, “mindfulness training,” I was already exploring various meditation practices. I read many books on shamanism, Transcendental Meditation, chanting, and dream interpretation. I felt that authors like Deepak Chopra and Carlos Castaneda held secrets that I was not privy to.
As the youngest of six, I was not privy to many secrets within my own family. I suppose they thought I was too young for many of the adult conversations. So, I became adept at eavesdropping, and wondering how to make sense of the urgent dialogues that wafted up the stairs to the top of the bannister where I lurked.
As I grew older, I found my practice of sitting and listening served me well in a number of different situations. I realized many years later that this is the first step towards developing a meditation practice.
How mindfulness training makes a difference in our lives
Our minds are a funny thing. We all have mantras. We run the same lines in our heads every day: I have to do this, she should have done that, or, they never do it right. Our negative recordings pile up inside our heads, exhausting us. It’s not until we make a concerted effort to incorporate mindfulness training into our daily lives that we will, at last, realize how a seemingly subtle practice can have such a moving effect on every aspect of our lives.
Until we realize the benefits of mindfulness training for ourselves, we will ignore the practice. We need to convince our brains that this practice, however subtle is worth the patience. Viewing mindfulness training as a medicine to our stressful lives helps us establish a regular focus.
The three basics of establishing a joyful meditation practice
I get the same questions and complaints from all beginner students. They say, “I don’t think I’m doing it right,” or, “I don’t have the time to sit. “ Start wherever you are, for how long you practice is not as important as how quickly you can bring yourself into the state of awareness.
Many of us are already practicing mindful awareness, without being “aware” of it. Here are three basic tips:
- Stop and listen. Instead of reacting to what we hear, just accept sounds as background noise to our awareness. We don’t need music, a quiet room, or special circumstances to do this. Do it for a little as 10 seconds, at least five times a day.
- Bring your focus inside to your breath. Do you have some niggly thoughts in there, too? Blow on them with your breath. Hold your breath for a few seconds at either end of breathing in and out, and focus right there, inside your heart and lungs. Again, this focus can be as short as 10 seconds.
- Whatever you are trying to let go of – overeating, a bad attitude, a family or work worry, for example – imagine it’s a hot potato, and drop it. You needn’t worry about whatever is bothering you, for you probably will naturally pick it up a few minutes later anyway.
Warriors don’t worry. They practice readiness. Napoleon knew the power of five minutes. Albert Einstein took dozens of moments out of every day to simply sit and practice watching his daydreams.
Doyou have some basic tips you’d like to sahre? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!