Mindfulness-based meditation is actually based on Buddhist Vipassana meditation. It was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979 as a method for people to cope with chronic pain. Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness
meditation involves being "mindful" or aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, and so forth of your immediate surroundings without becoming involved in thinking about them.
Mindfulness meditation involves simply experiencing whatever thoughts goes through the mind, without reacting to them. By training your mind to observe, without reacting or thinking your mind becomes clear, and calm.
Types of Mindfulness Meditation
There are two kinds of mindful meditation - formal and informal. Yoga and Tai chi are two good examples of the formal type. In a yoga class, and during tai chi, participants focus intently on their breathing and the postures, moving slowly from one position to the next, exquisitely aware of their feelings during the process. Practitioners are taught to concentrate on their breathing and its passage through the body as they dismiss any distracting thoughts.
Informal mindfulness meditation involves incorporating mindful approaches to moments of everyday life. A person takes a simple situation and merely observes it without promoting thoughts in a particular direction.
How to Perform Mindfulness Meditation
The practice of mindfulness meditation requires the person to be fully conscious of his or her surroundings while simply observing thoughts without making judgments about them and then moving on. The goal of mindfulness meditation is not to go into a trance, but rather to remain fully mindful and observe all of the surroundings but without acting on them. The key is to remain peacefully conscious without allowing your mind to wander or react to the thoughts. The easiest way to begin to train the mind for this type of meditation is to concentrate on your breathing and posture.
After focusing intently on these things, you then expand your concentration to the thoughts. Do not try to repress or encourage these thoughts, just serve the thoughts and then move to the next.You can practice formal mindfulness meditation, which will also include a physical approach (concentrating on posture as well) or an informal approach where you just become mindful to moments of everyday life., simply observing without promoting thoughts in any particular direction (remember the wide angle lens approach). Though it sounds simple, mindfulness takes practice, and the longer you practice, the easier the process becomes.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditations
People who regularly practice mindfulness meditation tend to develop a more positive relationship with their bodies. They change their habits to improve their health and well-being.
Types of Meditative TechniquesThere are many different ways to meditate. There are so many types of meditation techniques that have evolved over the centuries that it would take a encyclopedia to list them in. Here I will mention some basic categories of meditation techniques so you can understand some of the main options and how they differ from one another.
- Basic Meditation Techniques: This involves sitting in a comfortable relaxed position and just clearing your mind by thinking of nothing. It involves purging the mind of racing thoughts and outside influences. It sounds easier than it is. But once mastered, it provides wonderful benefits to the mind and body. The basic premise to clearing your thoughts is to try to put yourself in the third person, thinking of yourself as an 'observer of your thoughts.' As an observer you may "hear" your thoughts but you do not engage in the thoughts. As thoughts materialize in your mind, as an observer you just let them go.
Focused Meditation Techniques: With focused meditation the idea is to focus on something intently, while staying detached mentally. In other words you can focus on a sound (like the clicks a clock makes, or the sound from a table top fountain) or visually on a object (like the second hand of a clock moving around the dial), or even own breathing. ; or a simple concept, like 'unconditional compassion'. Some people find it easier to do this than to focus on nothing, but the idea is the same -- staying in the present moment, clearing the mind, and allowing yourself to slip into an altered state of consciousness.
Activity-Oriented Meditation Techniques: With this type of meditation, you engage in a repetitive activity, or one where you can get 'in the zone' and experience 'flow.' Again, this quiets the mind, and allows your brain to shift. Activities like walking gardening, creating artwork, or practicing yoga can all be effective forms of meditation. taking walking as an example, To do this exercise, focus the attention on each foot as it contacts the ground. When the mind wanders away from the feet or legs, or the feeling of the body walking, refocus your attention. To deepen your concentration, don't look around, but keep your gaze in front of you. Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself.
Mindfulness Techniques: Mindfulness can be a form of meditation that, like activity-oriented meditation, doesn't really look like meditation. It simply involved staying in the present moment rather than thinking about the future or the past. (Again, this is more difficult than it seems!) Focusing on sensations you feel in your body is one way to stay 'in the now;' focusing on emotions and where you feel them in your body (not examining why you feel them, but just experiencing them as sensations) is another.
Spiritual Meditating: Meditation can also be a spiritual practice. Many people experience meditation as a form of prayer -- the form where God 'speaks,' rather than just listening. That's right, many people experience 'guidance' or inner wisdom once the mind is quiet, and meditate for this purpose. You can meditate on a singular question until an answer comes (though some would say this is engaging your thinking mind too much), or meditate to clear their mind and accept whatever comes that day.
About the Author
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a well known author, champion natural bodybuilder, is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, personal trainer, and life coach with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, and anti aging fields.
As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar has been featured on several radio shows, TV, and featured in popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex and Ironman. Jeff's work has appeared all across the web, in books, and in peer reviewed scientific journals.
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