Pic taken from: Wikimedia.
I started practicing meditation about three months ago, and it may be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It all started when I decided to quit my job after feeling tired of the same routine, year after year of the same, again and again, it was just so boring, life had no taste at all and I only got enough money to pay the bills and go to the movies from time to time (not to mention that they didn’t pay on time, in fact they still owe me my last check) so, I finally got the courage to put an end to it, but with no plan and just a few savings I had no idea where to start, anyway, one of the first things I tried was meditation, and in a life full of mistakes it seems that I finally got a hit.
There are many types of meditation and mainly I’d say they differ between each other about the object of focus, personally, what’s been working so far for me is ‘Mindfulness’ or Vipassana, and that’s what I’m going to review in this article, but if you want to know a little more about other types of meditation, here’s a link: 7 Types of Meditation.
What is Vipassana or Mindfulness Meditation?
Is a type of meditation that focus on your breathing, its objective is to increase your awareness of the present time.
How to start?
In simple words, you choose a comfortable position, (preferably seated over lying in order to avoid getting sleep), you can sit on a chair or as we usually see in the movies, cross your legs and sit in a yoga mat or your bed, set an alarm for a determined time, perhaps 10 minutes to start, and start focusing on your breathing, and basically that’s it, the concept is simple but the practice can be very challenging.
What to do during meditation?
Try to feel every step of the process of breathing, when the air comes in and when the air comes out, feel the sensation in your nostrils when you inhale and when you exhale, put your attention in the small pauses between inhaling and exhaling, notice the variation of the rhythm of your breathing, notice if it starts to get slower or faster. Finally, this is important, focus on the breathing, not on judging yourself, don’t indulge thoughts like “I’m breathing too fast, this must be wrong” Don’t do that, there’s no wrong in meditation, as long as you are doing it, you’re doing it right.
What to expect at the beginning?
Expect distractions, probably your first thought will be “this is easy, sounds really simple”, but after a few minutes or even seconds of meditating, you’ll notice how restless the mind really is, you start focusing on your breathing and suddenly you don’t even know how or when you changed the subject, but now you’re thinking about a TV Show you used to like in the 90’s, and trying to figure out what could all of those TV stars be doing right now. You may also start to notice that you don’t feel all that comfortable, your nose itches, the refrigerator is too loud, you feel hot, you feel cold, etc.
That’s ok, it’s normal, like I said, don’t judge yourself, it’s a long process and you’re just starting, think that your mind is like a muscle, and your training it, no athlete accomplished all of his or her success within a few days, it usually take years, but don’t worry, if you´re consistent the benefits will show up sooner than you may expect.
What to do about distractions?
First, try to avoid them, choose a peaceful time and environment, wear comfy clothes and try to schedule a time when you know you won’t be interrupted. Before you start meditating remember that your goal is increasing your concentration, and once you´re at it, you’ll have to make an effort to control your mind, however, be gentle with yourself, don’t fight your mind, guide it, and if there’s a subject that your mind keeps bringing to your attention, pay attention to it, observe it, be aware of how you feel, it eventually will pass, and when you feel ready, go back to focus on your breathing.
What are the possible benefits?
I used to be a pretty angry and depressed person, worrying about everything, always focused on the details that made my life unperfect, now I’m much more relaxed, I care less about “perfect” and just feel at peace with what I have and what may come. This sensation of calm has allowed me to explore other things, now I cook, started to exercise and pay more attention to my family, it’s like getting a better perspective about what really matters in your life.
I still feel stressed, depressed or angry sometimes, like everybody else, but now I can honestly say that I’m happy, and I’ve never been able to say that before.
All what I learned about Mindfulness or Vipassana, comes from this book: “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhabte Gunaratana, it’s available in Amazon.