An Introduction to Meditation & Mindfulness

“Living in the now, for a mature human being, is about appreciating the passing moment as a fundamental of existence, accepting whatever comes our way, whatever we cannot change.” [1]

Into to Med 2a

Numerous meditation techniques exist worldwide that vary enormously. The meditation technique introduced in adaPTed Yoga comes from the oldest Buddhist meditation practice known as Vipassana.

Vipassana is a form of meditation that cultivates mindfulness or awareness. Vipassana is derived from two roots: Passana and Vi. Passana means seeing or perceiving, and Vi roughly means “in a special way.”[2]

Vipassana means to see things as they really are with clarity and precision. Vipassana meditation trains the mind to see reality exactly as it is, and this mental state is known as mindfulness.[3]

Mindfulness means paying attention to and accepting the present moment experience non-judgmentally. It allows you to be open, curious and accepting of each unfolding moment without being lost in the past or the future. [4] Simply stated, mindfulness is the ability of the mind to observe the present moment without criticism.

Mindfulness 1

It is useful to think of meditation as exercise for the brain and mindfulness as one of the resulting benefits of meditation. Just as running increases your cardiovascular endurance, meditation increases your mindfulness. Meditation helps the mind become more aware and equanimous to the ups and downs of life.

Everyone can meditate and benefit from mindfulness.

Here are a couple of points to keep in mind as you begin your journey with meditation:

  1. Let go of your expectations and goals. You do not have to accomplish anything during your meditation. You are simply observing and accepting your present reality.
  2. Be patient and kind to yourself. Like any new skill, meditation becomes easier with time and practice.
  3. Accept everything that arises while you are meditating. This includes all emotions, thoughts and distractions. Try not to judge your meditation as “good” or “bad.” Every meditation will be different; simply observe your experience mindfully.

 

Ready to meditate? Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

  1. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
  2. Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair.
  3. Position your neck and back in a relaxed yet upright and attentive manner. You can place your hands on your thighs or fold them gently over your lap.
  4. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. This is your anchor. You can do this by noticing the rise and fall of your abdomen or chest. Notice how your abdomen or chest rise with each inhale and then fall with each exhale. Notice how there is a pause after each inhale and after each exhale. You may also bring your attention to the rims of your nostrils. Notice the sensation of air as it travels in and out of your nostrils with each inhale and exhale.
  5. Breathe normally and let your breath flow freely and effortlessly.  
  6. Your mind will inevitably wander. Thoughts, emotions and sensations will draw your mind away from your breath. This is completely normal and okay. When you notice this has happened, simply redirect your attention back to your breath. You can observe and accept that your mind has wandered before bringing your attention gently back to your breath. It does not matter how many times your mind wanders and how many times you redirect your attention back to your breath. A wandering mind is normal and expected. Simply notice this and bring your attention back to your anchor.
  7. Remember to be kind to yourself and to not judge your meditation.

The more you meditate, the easier it becomes. You can start by meditating for 5 minutes at a time. At first, 5 minutes may feel like a long time. As you get comfortable and confident with meditation, you will be able to meditate more easily for longer periods of time.

Remember that meditation simply involves bringing your attention to an anchor—such as your breath—noticing when your mind has wandered, and redirecting your attention in a kind, nonjudgmental manner back to your anchor.

 

You can also visit our mindfulness resource page

for a list of our recommended meditation apps & resources! 

Alexandra Signature

 

References:

[1] Kipfer, B. A. (2009). 1,001 Ways to Live in the Moment. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. Page 006

[2] Gunaratana, B., & Gunaratana, H. (2011). Mindfulness in Plain English. Simon and Schuster. Page 26

[3] Ibid, 23-27

[4] Ibid, 30

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