The A,B,C,.......... of mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a challenging physical and mental skill to grasp.
Here are the key attributes, in alphabetic order, to consider. This list is not exhaustive.
ATTITUDE: Attitude is a mental trait. Having an open mind is important to understand, consider and practice meditation. Meditation is still an alien activity for most Westerners.
APTITUDES: Aptitudes are both mental and physical skills. In respect to meditation, the aptitude to stay still during several minutes is essential as well as trust and patience.
AWARENESS: This is a state of high consciousness. Without it, meditation is impossible.
ACCEPTANCE: Accepting that the practice of meditation is very challenging and its quality can vary greatly from one session to the next. This is why, being non-judgmental about the quality of your practice is so important. Many quit, like I did, because of negative judgment on the quality of their meditation. Practice does not affect the quality of meditation but will do on the quality of life.
BREATHING: Breathing is the usual focus point that is the anchor we use to slow-down if not to control our wandering mind. With experience, the focus point can be anything
BACK: In Zen we say: “ Straight back, straight mind; still back, still mind
You will focus far better when the back is straight and still, even on a chair away from the back of it.
CONFIDENCE: Trusting your practice is challenging especially when its lousy and when we have no time because “no time” is always the first excuse
COMPASSION: Don’t judge yourself if you miss your session or if, one day, you cannot meditate the way you want. Happens all the time. Just let it go.
CUMULATIVE: The practice of meditation is cumulative regardless its quality. You will discover that controlling emotions and vision of life will improve greatly with time.
DAILY: The optimal way (see cumulative) to practice. Few min. will do.
DETERMINATION: Not easy to keep. Up to 90% of new comers quit meditation within 3 months.
DISCIPLINE: Like determination, discipline is a state of mind. W/o it , no meditation is possible.
EFFICIENCY: See “Cumulative”. Meditation is efficient and effective physically, mentally and emotionally. But it is not a quick fix. Scientific proofs are numerous.
EMPTY MIND: Does not exist literally & figuratively. Quieter mind is a better expression.
EYES: To stay fully awake, it is advised to keep eyes semi open and looking down 3 to 4 feet away w/o staring or analyzing.
FOCUSING: .....in a mindful way i.e. No analysis, no judgment, no decision. We call this: Thinking thoughtlessly.
FINDING TIME: We always find time for priorities, never for what we perceive are not. Finding no time to meditate is a bad sign. Quitting is coming.
GROUNDING: The closer to the ground, the better. This is why a mat & meditation cushion are recommended. I will advise you where to get them.
GROUP: Group practice is more powerful than the solo one. Weekly is the rule. Retreats are excellent.
NON JUDGEMENTAL: Very important. Just do it bad or good, good or bad, excited or down.
ONCE A WHILE: Meditating when we feel like it is a waste of time. Quite.
ON-THE-GO: Being mindful few min. on something ,several times a day is an excellent exercise.
OBJECTIVES: Its physical, mental and emotional impacts are achieved via
1) Experiencing current reality, the only time where you are alive
2) Taming the mind.
3) And, eventually, serenity.
PATIENCE: Not a problem if you have the determination.
SILENCE: Silence is a wonderful and powerful anchor to quiet the mind.
SOLO: Daily solo practice demands organization, dedication and discipline.
WANDERING MIND: The mind will always wander while meditating. Just let go the thought and go back to the anchor.
WALKING: An excellent way to tame the mind by focusing on each step at slow pace.