The A,B,C of mindfulness meditation
In practicing mindfulness, always start as a new beginning every time, that is start without knowing anything. When you take away everything that you know, you are left with pure awareness, breathing and compassion. Apply the same approach regarding your life: each day is a new beginning where emotional past and expected future are ignored at least temporally. The reason why it is important to practice mindfulness is that it helps you to control better our emotional and fictional mind. Most people begin a mindfulness practice because they are suffering from whatever reasons. Attending to your mind will help you to work with and through your suffering.
1- The first step is awareness:
If suffering brings you to a mindfulness meditation practice, then you begin by being mindful awareness of your suffering as it is, w/o judgment. Suffering can be complicated. If we try to analyse all its components that contribute to its genesis, you embark in a very painful journey, aggravating the intensity of the suffering.
To cut right through, go back by bringing your mind back to the beginning that is, in Zen, the present moment, the Now and the easiest way to do this is to be mindful to your breathing.
When you become aware of your awareness- such as awareness of your breathing w/o any analytic or decisional process, you are 100% “awake” that is awareness at the second degree.
The natural reaction to suffering is to try to eliminate it. With mindfulness practice, you don’t try to get away from your suffering, you acknowledge it, pay attention and accept it in full awareness.
When you notice suffering, recognize your awareness of your suffering and again accept it.
2- The next step is breathing:
Already mentioned, to remain with your awareness, breathe consciously. Breathing allows you to be in the present moment, grounded in your body and able to observe the changing negative thoughts of your wandering mind. Accept them and let them go with compassion as opposed to hatred them.
3) The final step is compassion:
It is the attitude you adopt toward yourself as you breathe into your suffering. Recognize that you do not enjoy this feeling, and that you would be feeling differently if you could be compassionate about yourself. Acting on compassion involves applying a positive feeling i.e. compassion against a negative one i.e. suffering. Being aware of your feeling and your breathing as you activate compassion will quiet your mind.
Meditation and mindfulness go together because meditation is the practice of awareness, breathing and compassion. You practice meditation when you are not acutely suffering. Practice when you have time to sit and rehearse the skill of focusing your awareness on the present moment. By practicing meditation, you strengthen the habit of attending to your experience, whatever it may be. When you regularly practice meditation you are more likely to turn to mindfulness in a moment of need, rather than turning toward usual reflexes of anger, resistance and fight.
The ABC’s of mindfulness, Awareness, Breathing and Compassion, are simple and always available to you when you need them. If you practice often, returning to the present, cutting through the complications of life and our emotional mind you will recognize the power of this practice. You will be able to grow through suffering and expand your compassion to every ones.