There’s a new buzzword making its way around. It is a handy word, you can apply it pretty much everything. It embodies a concept, it gives the idea of some deeper dimension or at least thought.
The word is mindful. The attraction of the idea is it requires you to be here, now. Mindful eating, for example, means you become aware of the food you eat, in a literal way. You take on board the textures and tastes of what you eat. You notice the difference between sweet and savoury.
Not the past and not the future
When we begin to take notice of what we are thinking about we see we go into automatic mode. Imagine being at work; you do what you do, you think about it in a direct way, you make decisions based on information and move on. But our minds tend to shuttle.
We might be thinking about what comes next, we might have memories of the time something like this happened last time. What we are not aware of is what is happening right now.
The aim of mindful meditation is to be aware of now. The basic idea is incredibly simple. You sit or lie comfortably and you focus on the breath. When your attention wanders you notice it and bring the attention back to the breath.
It sounds easy but when you try it seems like the mind is conspiring against us. Thoughts come unbidden and from who knows where. Seemingly unrelated things pop up, or you can’t stop thinking about the jobs that have to get done.
Some people set a timer, giving themselves a five or ten-minute break. It is surprising how long five minutes can be.
Because just sitting is so hard especially when you’re new to it, you can ease into a practice by listening to a guided meditation. They are easy to find online and as it gains popularity there are apps for it which you can download to your phone.
A guided meditation usually has some calming background noise. This can be a gentle eastern type of music, it might be the sound of rain or of waves crashing the beach. The aim is to relax the mind and create space.
On top of the soundtrack, a soothing voice will guide you through the mediation. With the voice, you will usually start with some structured breathing to calm the heart rate and the mind. From there the meditation can go in lots of different directions. You may do a body sweep to relax all parts of the body step by step. You might do a visualization you might simply tune into what you can hear.
Usually, the voice will bring you back repeatedly to the breath encouraging presence.
It is harder than it sounds
The conundrum with meditation is the theory is simple, but the practice is hard. But then everything worth something at the end has to be a little bit difficult.