What Is Mindfulness?
Do you feel you are fully attentive and aware of what’s happening and what you are doing? It might sound like a strange question, but it’s surprising that so many of us lose our train of thought and are not in tune with our own bodies. Essentially, we have to learn to be more mindful and that’s sometimes not a very straightforward thing to do.
When you feel like you are moving aimlessly, mindfulness brings us back on point. The only true way to understand mindfulness, is to experience it. On account of you can’t really explain the feeling of mindlessness.
If you want to start understanding mindfulness, you need to know that it’s when a human being is fully present, to be conscious of where you are and what you are doing. Also, you are not overly responsive or affected with your present surroundings.
Some might say that mindfulness is ingrained into a person, but you can train yourself with various methods such as walking, standing, being seated, lying and mobile meditation. As soon as you start to become mindful, stress decreases and you experience improve intuitiveness, see a boost in mental and physical performance as well as becoming more aware of other people’s well-being.
When you get into mindfulness meditation you can clear whatever is blocking your mind and release your natural interests to become a better person and reach your full potential.
What Are The Different Types of Meditation?
Vipassana means ‘insight’ or ‘clear seeing’ and is a traditional Buddhist practice, which dates back to the 6th century. Vipassana meditation actually comes from Theravada Buddhist tradition. It is the ‘mindfulness of breathing’ and was made popular by the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine Jon Kabat Zinn.
How to Meditate in Vipassana Technique
Firstly, find a quiet place to meditate and sit with your legs crossed. If you can’t sit with your legs crossed, sit on a chair. When seated, make sure your back is straight but not too stiff. You have to be comfortable in order to achieve peace of mind and get into a meditation posture.
Then close your eyes and keep your attention on your abdomen. Breathe normally – don’t force your breathing. Also, don’t try to slow your breathing down nor make yourself breathe faster. As you start to breathe in and out, you will start to feel certain sensations. Try to remain focus of the rising and falling of your abdomen.
The movement of your abdomen is your primary object. The secondary object is anything that interrupts your attention to your primary object through your five senses – taste, smell, touch, sound and vision. A secondary object can occur in your mind such as a thought, memory or feeling. If the secondary object distracts you or causes negative feelings, focus on the secondary object for a sec and make a mental note and label it. The mental note is referred to as “noting” in Vipassana meditation.
For instance, when you give labels, make them as general as possible and just one word, like ‘sound’ instead of ‘car’, ‘voices’ instead of people talking. Also, if you are experiencing discomfort just say ‘pain’ instead of ‘backache’ or ‘toothache’. When the sound or feeling goes away, focus back on your breathing, the rises and the fallings of your abdomen. Labelling or noting as it is preferred to be called, helps to develop mental power and focus. This technique helps to bring about a clear and deep awareness of mind and body.
There are many mindfulness quotes, but one Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhist teacher said it best with the saying, “Zazen is like water in a glass. Leave the water to sit quietly and soon the dirt will sink down.” Zazen is the essence of Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist practice. The goal of zazen is to be seated and to stop judgmental thinking and let go of ideas, words, images and thoughts without getting affected by them.
How to Meditate in Zazen Technique
Find a place that is quiet and peaceful where you know you won’t be disturbed. Make sure it is a room that’s not too dark nor too bright, or not very cold and not very warm. The traditional practice is to sit on a zafu, which is a thick, round cushion and get into the full lotus position or the half lotus position. The cushion helps to lift the hips, which forces the knees to stay on the floor. This makes practicing Zazen more stable and comfortable. Also, you want to get a zabuton. This is a rectangular mat that you put under the zafu to rest the knees and legs. If you don’t have a lot of flexibility, you can kneel or sit on a chair.
While practicing Zazen, breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed. Keep your tongue pressed lightly on your upper palate. You should swallow once to make a seal that will lower the want to salivate and swallow. Keep your eyes lowered and fix your stare on the ground just two or three feet in front of you.
When you are really concentrating on your posture and breathing, the right state of mind appears. While practicing zazen, it’s common to have thoughts, emotions and images emerge, which come from the unconscious mind. Try not to follow, escape or fight them, because the more focus you give by trying to get rid of them, the more aggressive they will develop into.
Therefore, when you are hanging on to your thoughts, quickly bring yourself back to concentrating on your posture and breathing and your mind will calm down on its own, naturally. As you come to practice more and more Zazen, your mind will become at peace.
When you practice Zazen for the first time, it’s suggested to face the wall to avoid distraction. Put your zafu on your zabuton, or if you are using a kneeling bench or a chair, at least one meter away from the wall. When you are in a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths. Close your hand into a fist with your thumbs tucked into your fingers. Place the back of your hands on your knees, with the fingers up. Gently balance your body from left to right about three to four times.
Put your palms against each other as in prayer and bend forward for a moment to pay respect to Buddha and Dhamma. Then put your hands in the Hokkaijoin position, while keeping your back and neck straight. Try to practice for Zazen for 15 to 30 minutes.
A Mindful Body and Mind Needs a Mindfulness Diet
Eating mindfully (especially when trying to juggle work, family and countless other responsibilities we have to do) isn’t very realistic to many of us. When you are mindful to what you eat, you are likely to eat healthy and not consume too much. That’s because you are more in tuned to what you are doing at the present moment. That’s practicing mindfulness.
When you are mindful during a meal, you are less likely to just thoughtlessly stuff food into your mouth. For instance, when you gorge on popcorn or munch on one cookie after another until it’s all gone, but really you weren’t that hungry to begin with.
However, with mindful eating you only focus on the food, which helps you recognize certain cues that your body gives you to tell you it is full. Being mindful about what you eat can help many people with bad eating habits and yo-yo dieting. Once you have a good relationship with food, lasting weight loss and good health will follow. Mindful eating is just one way you can biohack yourself to improve your mindset and cognition.
Here are a few ways to practice mindful eating on a daily basis:
Don’t eat when you are past full and don’t ignore your body’s signals
Try to listen to when you are full and stop eating when you are satiated.
Don’t eat because you are sad, lonely or depressed
Instead, eat when your body tells you to eat. For instance, when your stomach is growling or you feel low in energy.
Don’t eat alone, or at irregular times
Enjoy your meals with others, appoint times and places.
Don’t eat foods that are emotionally comforting
Alternatively, consume healthy foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Don’t eat and multitask
When you decide to eat, just to do that and nothing else.
Think of your food as the finished product
Contemplate and appreciate all it took to put the food you are eating on your plate right now.
Combining good nutrition, light exercise, a good night’s sleep and meditation can set you on the right track to the ultimate lifestyle. If cooking nourishing meals is a struggle, find supplements that will provide you with the vitamins you need. Do at least 15 minutes a day meditation to avoid mental blocks, so you can move forward to achieving bigger and better things. Also, try to exercise even if that means climbing a flight of stairs, instead of taking the elevator. Practicing mindfulness with the people around you, the food you eat and to yourself can make a massive difference to your entire life!