Mindfulness Meditation Exercise

Mindfulness meditation, also called vipassana meditation and insight meditation, focuses your mind on your surroundings and the present moment.

But how does this help with anger, stress, frustration, and other negative emotions?

Every day you observe the passing parade of thoughts, feelings and the surrounding environment that you take into your conscious and unconscious awareness.

Often you attach meaning and judgments to these thoughts and emotions.

Rather than ignoring these thoughts and emotions, Kabat-Zinn (1992) recommends that we note these thoughts and feelings and observe them in a detached way.

By stepping back and observing these thoughts non-critical manner, mindfulness meditation allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts which are unburdened by emotions and judgments.

Mindful meditation equips you with the tools to manage stress and other negative emotions in an effective manner.

A mindful meditation exercise

There are two ways to conduct mindful meditation:

  1. Participating in a formal mindfulness course as developed by Kabat Zinn in his 8 week mindfulness based stress reduction programs.
  2. Bringing informal mindfulness into your everyday behavior with walking meditation or mindful eating.

This mindful meditation exercise enhances your awareness of the present by bringing your focus to the breath.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position or lie on the floor in a quite place.
  2. Close your eyes and relax all of your muscles.
  3. Breathe through in through your nose and notice your belly expand as you breath in and feel the sensation as you breathe out.

    Pay attention to the way that your breath moves in and out of your body.

  4. Stay in the present.

    Watching your thoughts come and go.

    Don't ignore your thoughts, simply note them, remaining detached and calm.

    Keep using your breathing as your anchor.

  5. You may find that you get attached to a thought and get carried away with it.

    Observe where you mind went off to, and without judging yourself or your thought, return to your breathing.

  6. As you approach the end of your session, sit for a moment or two and become of where you are. Get up gradually.

Adapted from:Kabat-Zinn J. Mindful Meditation: Health benefits of an ancient Buddhist practice. Mind/Body Medicine, eds. Goleman D, Gurin J. New York 1993. Consumer Reports Books, 259-275.

Is mindfulness meditation difficult?

Mindful meditation is usually much more difficult than object-focused meditation such as transcendental meditation or the relaxation response meditation.

For example, lets suppose that you decide to practice mindfulness meditation.

You decide to sit on a mat and do some diaphragmatic breaths and observe your thoughts and feelings in a detached manner.

Soon you start to think about the chores you need to do or the deadline that is due tomorrow (here you are starting to think ahead rather than remain in the present).

An inner dialogue with yourself ensues.... "I should not have left my work till the last minute," or "I better remember to do the chores."

The next thing you notice is an emotional response to the thoughts you are having.

You may start to criticize yourself or the less than perfect planning or the untidy house.

At this point you realize your thoughts and emotions have drifted from the present, to the past, and to the future.

If sitting and learning how to meditate is difficult then an easier option may involve:

In mindfulness meditation, being mindful is to be aware and to observe your stream of thoughts, without becoming attached or judging these thoughts.

Search here for other mindful meditation techniques

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