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This is a blog that attempts to deliver positivity through (hopefully humorous) illustrated tips, stories and cakes. Mostly I am writing advice to myself because I'm really good at being not positive. Hopefully this will inspire me to choose to have more good days than crappy ones. Perhaps it will help you too.

Also, there are no goldfish in this blog.

 

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Monday
Aug222011

Beginning Mindfulness Meditation

There are so many things I want to share with you,

 

 

but it seems I can't get anywhere without first telling you about mindfulness meditation.

 

 

Sorry, fundamentals are obnoxious like that. Mindfulness meditation is perhaps the least exciting foray into the world of personal development. It is also among the most valuable.

Let me stress that the different ways to view and practice mindfulness meditation are wide and varied. This is my own interpretation.

 

What is mindfulness meditation?

It's about being in the moment and observing what's going on inside yourself.

 

What to focus on when practicing mindfulness meditation

While meditating, you're going to try to be aware of two things:

1) Your focus point of choice - this is what keeps you anchored in the present.

 

 

Some examples of focus points:

  • Your breath - This is a common technique. I also find it overwhelmingly boring. Moving on.
  • Physical sensations - itches, pains, breezes, temperatures, numbness, etc.
  • Emotions - This is my favorite technique. I'll clarify how to do this further on.

2) Any thoughts that arise while you're concentrating on your focus point.

 

 

This is what can take you out of the present.

 

How to practice mindfulness meditation

Do I need to tell you to find a quiet and peaceful place to meditate? I hope not.

 

 

Next, people think you have to sit like this to meditate:

 

 

You do not have to sit like this.  You also don't have to sit like this:

 

 

 

You can try out fancy positions in the future, but for now just find a comfortable way to sit, preferably with your back straight. I usually need a wall or chair to lean against, because I have the wimpy back muscles of a baby. You can lay down too, but that's just asking for an unplanned nap.

Now close your eyes and observe your point of focus.

For this example, I'm going to use emotions as the focus point. With emotions, you want to focus on all the physical aspects of your emotions, not the story behind the emotions.

 

 

Instead, imagine stepping outside of yourself,

 

 

 

and observing the emotions objectively.

 

 

How would you label the emotion you want to focus on? Where is it located in your body? How intense is it on a scale from 1 to 10? Does it have a color? Texture? Is it moving, increasing, or dissipating? You get the idea.

When you feel you've spent a good amount of time on one emotion, simply move on to another.

 

Letting go of resistance

If you're meditating on an uncomfortable emotion (or any uncomfortable sensation), you'll find that it will become less intense, if not fade away entirely. Here's why:

The reason a negative emotions is seen as negative is because we don't want it. We resist it.

 

 

If you drop the resistance, and lovingly welcome the negative emotion in,

 

 

and really feel it and observe it,

 

 

it will morph from a negative emotion to just a collection of sensations.

For example, if you stop resisting the feeling of anger and truly experience it, you could discover that it's just a hot, rising, feeling in your chest. Realizing this makes the emotion less painful and more interesting.

 

Observing thoughts

Remember me mentioning that you will have to focus on two things while meditating? One is your point of focus and the other is thoughts.

Thoughts will inevitably interrupt your focus, especially when you're just starting out.

 

 

Just notice when these thoughts happen and then return to your focus point. Don't get caught up in the thoughts and don't beat yourself up for having them. It's incredibly difficult to clear your mind of all thoughts. They're just little clouds floating by in the sky of your mind. Note when they appear and then move on.

 

 

Conclusion

Just do this for as long as you want (or can tolerate). In the beginning, it will likely be boring. SO BORING. Actually, boredom is a great thing to meditate on, but I won't get into that right now because you'll hate me. Meditation can be frustrating, but I assure you it's worth it! It's a powerful exercise in introspection, self-awareness, and recognizing and releasing resistance. Believe it or not, after a while it becomes relaxing and enjoyable.

 

Tips

  • Join a meditation group. The collective energy of a group of people makes meditation endlessly easier and more enjoyable. You'll probably learn new techniques too.
  • Meditate after you exercise and/or shower. It will get the antsy energy out of your system and make you feel refreshed. Exercise likely induces some sort of brain chemistry that is advantageous for meditation, but as a college drop-out who majored in art, I reserve my right to avoid backing up my claims with scientific evidence.
  • It's all about the baby steps. Just five minutes of meditation a day can be beneficial in the beginning. Don't feel you need to bust out an hour every day right from the get-go.

 

Happy meditating!

 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

I'm gonna try meditating tonight, I swear it!

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam M

I support your decision!

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterSachi

I love your blog. I love the art and I love this post. I went to a local Buddist temple and learned this technique. I find focusing on my breath is great for a mini-meditation session (5 mins of peace is better than nothing but stress!)
I've never tried focusing on emotion, I shall give that one a try tonight, I really like the way you describe the technique and I Iook forward to groping my sadness. ;)

Thanks Elizabeth! I agree that focusing on your breath is good in short spurts. I do focus on my breath a bit at the start, just to get centered and ready for the rest of my meditation, but I definitely don't have the chops to focus on my breath for long stretches of time.

Haha, grope away!

August 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterSachi

I see a fun meditation book in the making! Great stuff Sachi!

August 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlmc

A book would be amazing.

August 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterSachi

Once upon a time in a land now somewhat far away, I attended a junior high graduation ceremony and enjoyed the most intelligent and insightful speech by a student ever in my experience. I leaned over to my (not yet) wife and said "This is someone worth watching as she travels through life."

Since then I've seen and appreciated the occasional sheep-with-visor or cow-with-shades, and now I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an accessible way.

Thank you for your unique contributions to a world that—while sometimes too mean and often too dumb to express it—benefits in ways big and small.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJef Allbright

Jef, your comment is wonderful and makes me feel glad about pretty much everything. I must me doing something right with this dinky blog of mine. Thank you so much, truly.

September 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterSachi

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