Guest post from HFF Intern Stacy Shelts
Take a deep breath in through your nose. Let it out through your mouth. Close your eyes and repeat.
Pretty simple, right?
What did you hear? A gentle hissing or whooshing sound perhaps.
What did you feel? The rising of your chest and belly. Drawing cool air into your nose and the warmth of your exhale.
What did you see? Your bright computer screen with your eyes open, the room around you, and maybe black or orange when you closed your eyes.
Try a few more breaths on your own and just notice how they feel in your body.
Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?
Congratulations! You just meditated. Even just sitting and doing “nothing” can be stimulating if you pay attention to your sensations. That’s mindfulness.
In this post I’ll give you some meditation tips, so you can see what all the fuss is about 😉
John Kabat-Zinn, the guy whose research is primarily responsible for bringing meditation practices into Western culture, defines meditation as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the presence of the moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Since you’re already curious enough to read this, here are Kabat-Zinn’s Seven Primary Attitudes of Mindfulness (2011):
Non-judging: Thinking, feeling, or responding absent the influence of an internal sensor or critic; “just noticing” thoughts, emotions, or whatever may surface as relevant. Non-judgment, however, does not endorse behaviors that put yourself or others in harm’s way.
Patience: The art of deferring gratification; waiting; derived from the Latin root meaning to undergo, suffer, or bear.
Beginner’s Mind: Approaching each new task with an open mind. Think of the sense of wonder that a child attempting a task for the first time may experience; removing the expert’s mindset, refraining from acting on auto-pilot.
Trust: Having belief in some unseen entity, an outcome, another person or group, or the internal self.
Non-Striving: Thinking, feeling, or acting with focus on the process, not just the outcome. Non-striving does not mean laziness or sloth; think of it as an attitude that encourages you, even in your work, to not force, to refrain from trying so hard. Letting whatever happens, happen.
Acceptance: A coming to terms with reality, no matter how harsh or unpleasant it may be; doing so can be a pathway to peace. Does not imply you have to “like” the reality that you discontinue fighting.
Letting go: Releasing your “grip” on a situation, emotion, person, thing, or outcome, generally resulting in a freeing response (or at least the beginning of one).
When I talk about Mindfulness or Meditation, I get a lot of funny looks.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard “I just can’t meditate. My mind’s too full.” or “I’ve tried it and it’s just not for me.”
Having personally practiced meditation in various forms for years, I can say that sometimes it’s just as challenging for me to quiet my thoughts as it was when I first started. Meditation is a practice that doesn’t necessarily get easier the more you do it. Our minds are constantly focused on the tasks we have in front of us – work, errands, stressors that NEED dealt with A.S.A.P. and you’re telling me to just sit here and BREATHE??
Sounds like a waste of time!
Time is precious. I get it.
But what if you could enjoy moments of bliss more fully? What if you could fully relax at the end of each day, able to rest well and feel renewed? Meditation helps us quiet the endless stream of thoughts about the past or the future and connect with the present moment instead.
Here are a few more tidbits to consider:
You are not your mind. The mind is a tool that sometimes kicks into overdrive, making it difficult for us to just be. Disconnecting from thoughts makes it easier to use our mind when we need it and turn it off when we don’t.
It just takes 5 minutes a day to feel more focused, energized, and present in your life.
Meditation can be so simple. Sit in your car before you leave for work and just take 5-10 deep breaths. Notice how the seat feels beneath you, the clothes on your skin, and take that moment for yourself. If you have kids, try to find a few moments of quiet where you know you won’t be distracted to purposefully meditate.
Intention is key. Tell yourself that you are going to take the next 10 minutes for meditation and meditation only. If you half-heartedly sit to meditate, you may find yourself just stewing about your worries or judging your thoughts for a while.
Be patient. Your mind won’t be crystal clear. We are sentient beings designed to reflect, so don’t be frustrated if thoughts come up again and again. Just notice what you find yourself thinking about and gently bring your awareness back to the present moment.
Seek out tools. Below are a few great meditations to listen to that will guide you along:
Click here for sample meditations <—-Click It! (with beginner’s mind) 🙂
Test those out and be sure to let us know your experiences, questions and your favorite meditation tips.