There is a lot of talk these days regarding meditation and mindfulness, what are the differences in traditional meditation and mindful meditation. A lot of people say oh I don’t have time for meditation, sitting for hours doing nothing, I can not do meditation as i can not clear my mind and think of nothing. You do not have to be a Tibetan monk in isolation on a mountain in the Himalayas to meditate. Traditional meditation and the act of clearing the mind of all thoughts and focusing on the still emptiness is a difficult skill to master and can take many years to learn.
Meditation finds its roots in the Vedas the oldest of the Hindu scripts dating back thousands of years, meditation focused on spiritual growth and transcending emotions to live in a calm present state. It can involve a lot of techniques or practices to reach this heightened level of consciousness — including compassion, love, patience, and of course, mindfulness. So mindfulness is a type of meditation, alongside tantra, yoga, sexuality, silence, breathing, and emptiness.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on being in the present, such as focusing completely on eating a meal, focusing on each mouthful of food and being present in the now, it can be practiced for any daily task. Being mindful is the act of bringing your attention fully onto the object in question, be it focusing on the breath which is a common mindful mediation practice. As thoughts enter your mind you acknowledge them and return to focusing on what you were doing in your mindfulness meditation.
Everything in life starts with the breath, we take it for granted though and it is not in our top priorities of thought, if we suddenly stopped breathing it would soon become our number one priority. The breath is one of the most powerful things to tap into because it is life itself. Mindfulness breath meditation is a fantastic exercise to start with in your mindful practice. Deep breath mindfulness is a great tool for relieving yourself of anxiety. Your breath is your life force your energy, breathing is controlled at the conscious and unconscious levels, breathing deeply can help on many levels from the physical to the mental the emotional and spiritual. When you are calm and relaxed you are able to think much more clearly.
Anyone from the very young to the very old can learn simple deep breathing exercises. If you suffer from anxiety learning a few deep breathing exercises can help you to manage that anxiety in a far healthier manner.
A great yet simple breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 breath. This is a great mindfulness exercise to start children on. This is also a great exercise for getting to sleep.
This technique is very easy, takes hardly any time, and can be done anywhere in five steps. Although you can do the exercise in any position, it’s recommended to sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of skin just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.” This is followed by the five-step procedure listed below:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
The most important part of this process is holding your breath for eight seconds. This is because keeping the breath in will allow oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate throughout the body. It is this that produces a relaxing effect in the body.
The most basic mindful meditation is to focus on your breath.
Mindful Breathing The primary goal of mindful breathing is simply a calm, non judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them.
Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.
Bring your attention to your breathing.
Imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy. Every time you breathe in, the balloon inflates. Each time you breathe out, the balloon deflate. Notice the sensations in your abdomen as the balloon inflates and deflate. Your abdomen rising with the in-breath, and falling with the out-breath.
Thoughts will come into your mind, and that’s okay, because that’s just what the human mind does. Simply notice those thoughts, then bring your attention back to your breathing.
Likewise, you can notice sounds, physical feelings, and emotions, and again, just bring your attention back to your breathing.
You don’t have to follow those thoughts or feelings, don’t judge yourself for having them, or analyse them in any way. It’s okay for the thoughts to be there. Just notice those thoughts, and let them drift on by, bringing your attention back to your breathing.
Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention back to your breathing. It’s okay and natural for thoughts to enter into your awareness, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing.
This post only scratches the surface of the benefits of mindfulness. I shall be adding some guided mindful meditations to the page. Some will be specifically for children. I do these with my daughter who has ASD ( Asperger’s) we have noticed a marked difference in behavior, focus and calmness when we do these.