Forget sitting cross-legged, achieving absence of thought and being strictly disciplined. Mindfulness meditation is all about going easy on yourself and being accepting of the here and now. Here Victor explains what it is and why it works so well.
It is true that to have a healthy body, you need to exercise and have a clean diet. On the other hand, to have a healthy mind, meditation is the key. But then comes the question, which meditation type will work best for me?
I have been a proponent of meditation ever since I started practicing it, about ten years ago. Over the years, I have gotten to know quite a few different types of meditation. I found Vipassana and Laya yoga quite effective, but I also enjoyed the most straightforward type of mediation, in which you sit with your back straight and focus on nothing except the absence of thought.
Of course, the term “Mindfulness” was also known to me. But because I was so attached to the idea that any meditation type must be at least a couple of thousands of years old and have a name that is hard to pronounce, Mindfulness meditation wasn’t something I was planning to practice. The meditation was, after all, derived from other mediation types and invented only in the end of the 20th century.
However, all of my preconceptions about Mindfulness faded as soon as I gave it a try. I immediately fell in love with it.
How does Mindfulness meditation work?
The goal of Mindfulness is, as you can probably figure out from the name, is to become mindful, aware of everything that happens to you and around you.
During the early stages of Mindfulness meditation, you learn to concentrate on feelings, thoughts, sound, sight, etc. You concentrate on all things that you can experience, but you don’t judge them. You don’t label anything with “good” or “bad”, “happy” or “sad”. You simply notice everything without analysing it.
By noticing everything that happens to you without judgment, you train your mind to not be lost in thought, which is where we are most of the time most of our lives.
We also learn to focus on specific objects, such as your breathing or the TV in front of you, with as little distraction as possible on anything else. At first, you will be aware that there is noise or that you have different thoughts coming and going. That’s ok. You can be aware of other things as well, just as long as you don’t give them your full attention.
Sooner or later, if you practice Mindfulness consistently, you will learn to have your focus only on the object and not notice anything else, including yourself, the subject.
I understand that this may be a hard concept to grasp, but that is what mediation is all about. Only once you have the experience, you really understand what it is like. The term Mindfulness is often described differently by different people.
Why Mindfulness works so well
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to practice meditation that was original, that was ancient. Mindfulness meditation not only is a combination of other existing meditations, but it even has a Western-sounding name to it. Both of these things repelled me from it.
Ironically, the fact that it is so “modern” is what makes it so great today. Unlike Vippasana, which is another type of meditation that I have practiced a lot and found useful, Mindfulness feels so much more natural and easier in practice. In a sense, it’s an evolution of other meditations, an improved version of them, at least to me.
Also, from my experience, with Mindfulness my life began to change almost immediately, whereas other meditations required many months or even years of practice before I could feel any effect.
To practice Mindfulness, you don’t need to be in a dark quiet room, sitting in the lotus position. No, it can be practiced whenever and wherever you are. In fact, one thing that always used to annoy me during meditation was noise, which distracted me immensely. In Mindfulness, external noise is actually useful to the practice.
Once you begin to practice Mindfulness, you will see things for what they really are. You will know that you are experiencing fear or pain, but it won’t have much effect on you, if any. Also, if you need to focus on something, such as love, joy or even doing basic work, that is where Mindfulness will come extremely handy, as you will be able to isolate your mind from all other distractions.
I see Mindfulness practice as the acceptance of everything that happens to us. When we are able to fully accept something without judgment, we let it go, and that makes a world of difference to our life. I also see Mindfulness as pure awareness, in which we have full control over what we choose to feel and what we choose to not feel.
In conclusion, I suggest that you try out many different types of meditation to find out which suits your needs most. However, I highly recommend that you give Mindfulness a chance. If you are anything like me, you will be amazed by how quickly your life will begin to change for the better.