Meditation. Mindfulness. Being present. We hear these phrases all the time. I’m a huge believer in the effectiveness of meditation
. I know as a society it’s something we desperately need to incorporate into our busy, distracted lives. But why is it so damn hard to make it a consistent part of my life?
Mindfulness is something I struggle with on a daily basis. In case you aren’t completely sure what “practicing mindfulness” looks like… here’s a simple explanation: basically it’s paying attention to the moment. And what I find interesting is mindfulness is simply that, just paying attention to the NOW. It’s almost too simple that we feel like we can’t do it. I love reading about meditation. I love the idea of being mindful. But when it comes down to it… its always something that “I’ll do later” when “I have some time”.
Sometimes I’ll make a big deal of being mindful when I schedule a time to meditate. I will be really good and set my alarm for a morning meditation session… I will sit quietly for 10 minutes and try like hell to quiet all the thoughts in my head… (“oohhh I’m being so good, look at me, I’m meditating” or “I can’t wait to drink my coffee after this” or “How much longer do I have” or ” Stop thinking you are supposed to be meditating”). I will be really diligent and meditate like 3 or 4 days in a row… but then I stop. I will not have “enough time” to meditate. I go back to the status qua… I am not present… my thoughts are a million miles away from the present moment. I am thinking about what I should be doing, what I will be doing later, how I could have done xy or z in the past.
It’s crazy too because I have the most perfect teacher to demonstrate mindfulness… my toddler! Kids are super duper present. Maybe not always mindful… but definitely not thinking about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. They are happy to just be. So how can I get better at practicing mindfulness? Well, for one, being aware that I can access this at any time. I don’t need to have a formal meditation session to be doing this.
There are a few mantras that help me remember that being mindful is accessible anytime and anywhere… they are:
1. You have the power to be present right now.
2. Choose to be present in this very moment. Concentrate on your next three breaths and really feel them with your whole being.
3. Just sit and look around, notice everything you see. Really look at these things.
4. Look at my kids (or any kid in your life). Just admire how present they are.
Or if you need some more structure, try a guided meditation. I recently tried this one from the book “Buddha’s book of sleep” by Joseph Emet. You can have someone read it aloud to you or just record yourself on your phone and play it back. Read it slow and take time to pause. You can read the first paragraph to get in the mood to do the guided exercise.
Read this to first to get inspired
It is essential to realize the preciousness of NOW. Now is the only time we are alive. The present moment is our home: we live in the present. We cannot live in the past or the future except in our mind, in our thoughts. Thinking takes us away from now. Our senses bring us back.the birds sing only now, and the heart beats only now. So long as we are in our senses we are in the present. This is one of the essential differences between daydreaming and meditating: daydreams take us to another place and time away from here and now, while mindfulness meditation brings us back.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Exercise (from Joseph Emet)
Sitting comfortably, I release my thoughts. I let go of stress and tension, and put all my attention into my breathing
Breathing is all there is. There is nothing except breathing right now.
There is no time apart from the breath. Breath is time. When my attention is continuous, I experience life in its fullness.
Time only exists in the present. The past is not time. Once the past was the present, but now it is only thoughts and ideas.
I can only live in the present. What I think of as the future is not time. It is a bundle of expectations.
Past and future both exist in the present. They exist as memories, habits, ideas and expectations.
The flowers that have bloomed before have left us their perfume. That perfume exists now.
The seeds of the future are also here in the present. Many of these seeds are underground and invisible to me.
Time is embedded in my life and in my breath. When I am one with my breath, I experience life fully and not as an abstraction.
When I am one with my breath I am always in the present. I live in an eternal spring where everything is fresh and new
I am not stuck in a past made of ideas. As I release my ideas the past also changes for me.
I am grateful for being alive. I see everyone with the mind of love. I breathe with gratitude for all the beings who support my life and make the world beautiful.
Stress is not part of the future. My expectations are not part of the future. They are part of my habits of mind. I release these habits so that I can live with an open mind that is free.
Happiness is now.
There is no other time for it to be. There is no other time.
I am one with my breath and with the sensations of my body. I breathe with a peaceful heart.