Feeling a little overwhelmed? Stressed out? Constantly going, going, going? Well, maybe you need to add a little mindfulness in your life! We sat down recently with Charity from Meditating Together to learn more! Here’s our Q&A:
What exactly is mindful meditation?
Mindfulness Meditation is the awareness of the present moment through the practice of meditation in a nonjudgmental manner. During mindfulness meditation we take away external distractions and use anchors or centering focuses to bring awareness to the present. The most typical anchor used is the breath. Every one’s minds wander, it is ok, this is where compassion can be used and will cultivate. There is no need to judge yourself for something that is human nature. Despite what most people think, in mindfulness meditation the objection is not to stop the mind from thinking it is developing the awareness of when we are thinking and return to the anchor. Over time a person can start to explore the thoughts. A person can start to notice what body reaction arise around attachment to thoughts. I feel this is where the fun begins! A person can learn a lot about themselves. I for instance notice I get caught up in future thinking, making up scenarios that I don’t even know will happen. Clinging to the thoughts can cause stress, anxiety or worry.
Why is it so important?
In meditation you learn the feelings around emotions. The awareness can be brought into every day life. It can be noticing your heart start racing as call comes in from someone that causes you stress or anxiety. Take a moment, breathe then answer the call or not answer the call at all. You take action to do what is best for you. I like to say mindfulness meditation is a tool to obtain inner peace with side effects of less stress, anxiety and worry. I will add there are a lot of studies showing that mediation has shown to have great physiologically effects on the brain as well.
What are some ways to be mindful/present during the day?
I gave an example of being mindful when answering the phone. I also recommend when a person is out and about to become more mindful of what they are doing. When you are doing errands when walking to your car or walking home from the store notice the tress, the sky, hear sounds of the birds, and feel the air. If you always have music playing in the car, turn it off once and while. Notice your thoughts, and be comfortable just being. A little shameless plug, I ride the 7 bus to and from work every day. On my way home at the end of the day I take the 10 minutes to sit, no phone, no Facebook, no email and just be. I check with myself, become aware of how I am feeling, and bring attention to my breath, releasing stress around my day at work (or the struggles of riding the 7).
When is the best time to meditate?
There is no best time, other than the best time that works for you. I enjoy meditating at night, it helps me let go of the looping thoughts I have from the day and helps me sleep better. Some people like to meditate first thing in the morning. What ever time works best for you!
Do you have an advice for first time meditators?
My first advice is to let go of any expectations. Meditation does not have to be done sitting on a cushion cross legged chanting om. The person is not going to immediately be free of stress and worry. I also tell first timers that when they think they are doing it wrong, they are most likely doing it right! I would recommend a person doing the first time with guidance, either an in person class or through a recording. I offer both!
To learn more about Charity and mindful meditation, you can visit her website.