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Mindfulness Meditation Basics

Mindfulness is state of relating to our experience in a non-judgmental, openhearted, attentive manner.

Mindlessness is a state of autopilot … going through the motions without noticing what’s happening. Studies show that people are on autopilot about 47% of the time.

Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that trains the mind to become more focused, attentive and non-judgmental, leading to more awareness post-meditation. It is a profound act of self-compassion that leads to compassion for others.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a standardized research-based 8-week series of classes taught worldwide, through which participants can learn practices that reduce stress and lead to more effective ways of responding to life’s inevitable challenges.

A “mindfulness revolution” is taking place, as more and more people discover the proven benefits of mindfulness practice.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” 

Lao Tzu

Tips to get started

· Set a firm intention to devote time to your self-care.

· Commit to 3 – 5 minutes of daily practice and build gradually.

· Aim for a daily practice. Consistency is important!

· Listen to freely available guided meditations.

Formal practice

Intention – Decide on a practice would be most supportive and proceed from there. (Ex. cultivating focus or compassion, opening the heart, body scan, movement)

Posture – Sit in an upright yet comfortable posture, on a firm chair or cross-legged on a meditation cushion. If seated on a cushion or blanket, having your knees lower than your hips will protect your low back. 

Lengthen the spine without making it rigid. Allow your shoulders to relax and let your hands rest on your thighs or in your lap. Slightly tuck your chin, and elongate the back of your neck. 

Your eyes can be slightly open or gently closed. If physical challenges make sitting uncomfortable, practice lying down.

Practice –

  • Find a recording consistent with your intention.
  • If sitting silently, begin by check in with the body, noticing sensations, emotions and thoughts, without judgment, self-criticism or trying to make the experience different. Then choose an object of focus (breath, sound, physical sensation, emotion, or something in your visual field) and rest your attention there.
  • Whenever you find yourself distracted (and you will be distracted), gently escort your attention back to the present moment and your object of meditation, without commentary. There is no need to clear the mind of thoughts. The practice is simply returning to your anchor, over and over.
  • Let your practice be infused with a sense of compassion and kindness.

Informal practices

1. STOP, BREATH AND BE: Completely stop what you’re doing, take one to three deep breaths, and just let go. This brief practice can be done repeatedly throughout the day, allowing you to wake up from automatic pilot, and perhaps causing a shift in any thoughts, emotions and physical tension that have been accumulating.

2. BRING MINDFULNESS TO DAILY ACTIVITIES like washing dishes, eating, folding clothes, walking the dog, petting the cat, driving, taking a shower, etc. 

By letting go of thought and noticing the actual experiences of daily living . . . the sounds, smells, sights, and feelings that are occurring in the present moment, you can forge a deep connection with the richness and beauty of everyday life.

Once you’ve established a practice

  •  Don’t beat yourself up if you get off track. You can always take a fresh start.
  • Group practice helps support at-home practice. 
  • If you find yourself struggling, it’s best to consult an experienced meditator. Try not to give up.
  • Find “Opening In” on Facebook.