Travel Deeper

Meditation. Self-exploration. Mindfulness. A trend that has grown over the last couple of years has focused on the concept of ‘self.’ Whether that is going on a retreat to work on oneself, traveling alone, meditation as a form of exercise or practicing mindfulness – you are still at the heart of it.

Meditation

Is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist – so how do you learn? It can be difficult for beginners to sit and think of nothing but in general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath. There is concentration meditation where you focus on a single point by following your breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, or listening to a repetitive gong. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations. There is also mindfulness meditation which encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or judge them, but simply be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Mindfulness

Is the practice of purposefully focusing all your attention on the moment, and accepting it without judgement. Done correctly. Mindfulness will allow you to decrease your stress and anxiety, minimize the amount of time that you spend feeling overwhelmed, and help you appreciate each small moment as it happens. 

How to practice meditation:

  1. Sit or lie comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as your breath. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

How to practice mindfulness:

  1. Dedicate time and space for your mindfulness practice.
  2. Make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment, without judgement.
  3. Allow yourself to do nothing and just be.
  4. Don’t think about the past. Don’t plan the future. Don’t look at the time.
  5. Pay attention to your thoughts, words, actions, and motivations.
  6. Notice your judgements and let them pass.
  7. Return to the present moment.

This article was originally published in CROWD magazine vol.3, available at Crowd1.