Mindfulness Meditation

There are many different types of meditation, and it can get a bit confusing when people talk about ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’. What exactly are these and how are they different?

Mindfulness meditation is different to visualization. Visualization is when you are focusing on imagining being somewhere in your mind, when actually your body is sitting or lying still, your mind is thinking in great detail about being on a beautiful beach, or walking in the woods with sunlight coming through the trees.
It is also different to chanting when you are meditating on sounds, or reciting a prayer.
If you do mindful meditation you are not focusing on something else, which distracts you from your thoughts, you notice your thoughts whatever they might be.
Find a quiet place
So if you want to try this, just find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed for a while and close your eyes, (if you don’t want to close your eyes you can lower the lids, so that you are looking down to a spot on the floor). Then sit still and notice how you are feeling. Are your shoulders a bit achey? If they are, then just notice this feeling, if you need to move them you can, or you can try and just notice the feeling. Can you hear yourself breathing? Can you feel yourself breathing? notice the feeling of the air as it comes in through your nostrils and as it is released, feel your belly swell as you breath in,  notice the feeling of your buttocks resting on the chair and your feet on the floor, notice if you sneeze, or fart!  If you are feeling sad, you can say to yourself quietly in your head, “I’m feeling sad right now”  and just take a step back, it doesn’t mean that you will stop feeling sad, but just acknowledge this feeling with kindness towards yourself, don’t start thinking about why you are sad . You are simply having a sad feeling, it’s just a feeling and it will pass, just like a cloud that temporarily obscures the sun , then go back to noticing your breathing again.
Perhaps after a while you might think “This is boring”, or ” I feel like getting up and moving around now”, notice these feelings as if you are watching yourself from a distance and see if you can stay meditating for a bit longer even though you are having these thoughts.
Mindfulness on the move
The difference between mindfulness and other sorts of meditation, is that there are many situations in which we can be mindful, for example when we are walking down the street, we can notice our breathing, the feeling of a breeze on our face, the leaves on a bush, a car, the smell of exhaust fumes, the feeling of not liking the smell of car fumes, the sound of a bird, our feet going up then touching the ground one by one.
Everyone is different
You don’t have to remember the things which I’ve talked about noticing. When you try it, you will notice your own things, everyone is different and we will all notice different things when we are doing mindful meditation.
How can it help?

Many of the sort of things which you notice when you’re meditating like this, are bodily functions which we just do, without noticing much, like breathing. It can feel nice to take notice of these ordinary functions, like meeting an old friend again after a long time, reconnecting with yourself and your own body.
It can also help you to notice feelings which you might not have wanted to think about, or just hadn’t had time to stop and notice that actually you were feeling quite cross inside. It helps to notice feelings too. Because feelings don’t like being stuck inside and not noticed.
It can also help you deal more calmly with the things that happen in everyday life and not get swept up and controlled by your emotions so much, as you learn to stand back and watch them, like you are deep down in the ocean watching the waves of feelings crashing on the surface from a calmer perspective in the deep still of under the surface.
One study demonstrated that after only eight weeks of meditating for approximately one hour each day, six days a week, test subjects reported they had become happier.
You only need to meditate for a few minutes for it to make a difference to how you feel.

Now you know what to do, give it a try and see how it makes you feel.

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