Tag Archives: Meditation

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Keep Trying That’s Why It’s Called a Practice

Background

I have been meditating off and on for almost 10 years now. I love meditating. It’s one of the most difficult and most rewarding things I do for myself. It’s funny because whenever I talk about meditating, I usually go on and on about how much I love it and the benefits I receive from it and then end usually somewhere around ‘that’s why I rarely do it.’ I say that to make people laugh which I love to do, but it’s also a little true. I don’t meditate nearly as much as I would like.

A Beginner’s Guide

When one is first beginning a meditation practice it helps to have someone guide you through it or have something to focus on either the breath, counting from 100 backwards and starting over if your mind wanders or even a body scan practice. In an article by Tara Healey found here: https://www.mindful.org/a-10-minute-body-scan-practice/. She not only describes how to do a meditative body scan but links to an audio version you can listen to and practice along right at home.

Vipassana – Silent Meditation

After you have practiced meditating several times or if you want to explore other methods of meditation another option is Vipassana or silent meditation. I used to go to the Zen Center in Minneapolis and I have also attended many sessions at Dharma Field in South Minneapolis. Both places offer meditation where essentially there is a group of people in a room, someone leading the meditation clangs a metal bowl or bell three times and then it’s quiet for 20 minutes. There is something about meditating with a group of people that is much more powerful than doing it alone and I don’t know why. John Mac explains that one can meditate anywhere. One of his favorite places is in the forest.

Walking in the forest can be meditative and very effective.

It’s called a meditation practice for a reason.

Whichever way you decide to practice meditating is up to you. Any advice I could give on it would be the same advice I would give myself. Your mind is going to race and it’s going to wander because that is what the mind does. Clearing your mind for 30 seconds or 10 minutes or 30 minutes is a gift. I like to think of it as a vacation from my thoughts. All the lists I create in my head and all the future plans I absolutely adore making will be there waiting and ready to be picked back up again once I’m done meditating. But for just those few moments I’m allowing myself a break, a pause from the constant go go go of life. Even if you think you could never meditate you probably already have without even knowing it. Have you ever caught yourself ‘zoning out’ staring off into space while waiting in line or looking out the window? That’s meditating. You’ve already done it. Look at you already practicing!

Mindfulness Matters

The past few weeks I’ve been feeling stressed from the demands of working full-time, going to school, volunteering, and staying connected with our four children (two live on the east coast). Adding to the mix is the need to clean the house, do laundry, and other obligations that pull my attention in too many directions. But, today I realized what was missing. I need to get back to practicing mindfulness meditation! When I practice mindfulness regularly, no matter what is going on in my life my stress level dissipates.

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What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of being. When you’re mindful, you purposefully pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Instead of rushing from one thing to the next, being mindful means you’re living in the present and awakening to your experiences. The practice of mindfulness meditation teaches you how to cultivate awareness, which reduces stress.

My introduction to mindfulness was through my employer’s wellness program. At work, they offer a weekly mindfulness meditation class over the lunch hour. The mindfulness training is compatible with the aim of the wellness program—to enhance employees’ well-being.

A small group of people meets weekly for a one-hour session of guided meditations, compassion practices, and breathe awareness. The instructors provide examples of ways to integrate mindfulness into our daily lives—which trains our brains to live in the present moment. Because the class is not offered over the summer months, I’ve gotten out of my routine.

Principles to start your day off on a positive note
While I’ve abandon my mindfulness practice for the last month, I continue to use the tips from The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living by Dr. Amit Sood, MD, to start my day with good intentions.

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Dr. Sood says, “Your attention is like a muscle; working it out makes it stronger” (53).  He recommends beginning each day by focusing on one of the Stress-Free Living principles. So, I added them to my google calendar. I receive a reminder every morning at 8:15 a.m. They help me to start the day off on a positive note. The following list includes the assigned principle for each day:

Day of the week Theme
Monday Gratitude
Tuesday Compassion
Wednesday Acceptance
Thursday Higher Meaning
Friday Forgiveness
Saturday Celebration
Sunday Reflection and Prayer

 Benefits of Mindfulness
There are both physical and emotional benefits from practicing Mindfulness. The techniques help to:

  • Reduce stress
  • Lower pressure
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve symptoms of anxiety

Practicing mindfulness has been a positive experience, and many of the group members agree. When I practice regularly I am able to focus on and enjoy everything that I’m involved in. I feel more like I’m living life, rather than rushing through it.

For the Writing and Designing for the Web I course I designed a “Mindfulness Matters” website. We needed to provide a handout for the class on presentation day, so I created this one-page Mindfulness Matters Tip Sheet.

When I meditate, I find the practice beneficial for juggling a busy schedule. Give it a try! You, too, can reap the benefits of mindfulness meditation.

What tips do you have for dealing with the stresses of a busy schedule?

Relieve Finals Week Stress…

So, it’s finals week.

If you are anything like me, you are driving yourself crazy; finishing up stuff that you know you shouldn’t have put off; eating poorly; and avoiding sleep.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 2.08.21 AMThere are a variety of different stress relief methods which I have found to be effective to varying degrees. While some have been much less helpful to me, one has been exceedingly beneficial in helping me maintain my sanity during this high stress time of year.

I thought that this would be a prime opportunity for me to share one of the stress relievers that has been most helpful, in my experience…

Meditation.

The Mayo Clinic has published this guide to meditation on their website which clearly and succinctly explains what meditation is, several different types of meditation, and a step by step guide to the process and improving meditation skills. Follow these helpful tips and remember, we will get through this and be better equipped for it.

I hope that you find it useful.

What do you think?
Tell me in the comments section below.