Mindfulness is what many contemporary authors such as Eckhart Tolle have called “consciousness” or “present moment awareness”. It involves having your awareness centred in the present moment, including in such things as your feelings, sensations, and vital force. In doing so you re-channel energy that was previously stuck in the mind. This includes energy that was wasted in compulsive thinking and the continuous mental labelling of your moment-to-moment experience.
You could say mindfulness is our natural state and that compulsive thinking is what removes our awareness from that state. Therefore mindfulness meditation involves a sort of relaxation, where you simply cease to do what was preventing you from your natural mindfulness.
It’s not a “zoning out” sort of relaxation, but can also be guided with a certain amount of focus. However it’s good to keep in mind that the least effort needed to keep the meditation on track, the better. View your mindfulness meditation almost as an exploration with your consciousness, and keep the emphasis away from particular meditation techniques. Let your awareness simply flow into greater states of mindfulness through your meditation practise.
The meditation teacher Adyashanti in his book True Meditation said to cultivate “A relaxed focus” and added, “It’s up to you to work out what this means for you.”
Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
To practise the most basic technique of mindfulness meditation, simply sit or lie in a posture that is comfortable for you and bring your awareness to your breath. This mindfulness meditation technique is also called “breath awareness meditation” for obvious reasons.
Allow your awareness to rest naturally and effortlessly on your breath. Feel how the air enters and leaves your nostrils and observe, rather than control, the natural rhythm it takes. Over time you may start feeling a sense of euphoria or pleasure in your body. Just keep it up for as long as you feel comfortable.
Alternatively, it can be a good technique to have a timer set and practise mindfulness meditation for a set length of time: 5 to 20 minutes is probably enough.
Thinking In Mindfulness Meditation
A lot of people worry about thinking too much in their mindfulness meditation or in similar meditation techniques. It’s not a good thing to focus too much on thinking, because trying to stop thinking can become a distraction and can prevent you from developing true mindfulness. Instead, aim to rest your focus on your breath.
When thinking comes up, instead of fighting it, a good technique is to take it simply as – a message. Let thinking be a message that says, “You have lost your focus.” When you receive that message, thank it and return your focus to your breath. Allow your breathing to be your centre of focus again.
Other Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
There are many other mindfulness meditation techniques you can learn. As always, remember to remove the focus from the “technique” element and aim to simply “allow” them to happen, as if you were allowing a stream to flow downhill.
You can use Eckhart Tolle’s inner body awareness meditation technique to cultivate mindfulness. In this technique, you flow your awareness into the inner energy field of your body.
It’s easiest to become aware of the inner energy field of your body through your hands, lips, and feet, where there are the most nerve endings. You’ll first be able to notice the energy field as a slight tingling, which will grow as you deepen your mindfulness. Spread your awareness from your hands to the rest of your body, feeling the tingling in every area of your body if you can. Eventually, you may be able to sense the entire inside of your body as one boundryless expanse, almost a portal into the infinite. Remain in this awareness for as long as you feel comfortable, and return.
Another technique you may find useful is the “remembering” technique. It’s almost more of a habit than a meditation technique, but the idea is to simply remember throughout the day to be mindful. Whenever you have this sudden remembrance, spend a few moments – perhaps a minute, or 10 mindful breaths – returning to mindfulness. Then go about your day and aim to keep that mindfulness in the activities in which you partake in.
The Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has a lot of great benefits, such as improved health, a greater sense of wellbeing, more intution, more mental clarity, a greater sense of perspective and general wisdom. It also has the benefit of, of course, more control over your emotions, and a greater prevalence of positive emotions in general.
Actually, cultivating mindfulness may be said to one of the keys to happiness in general. It’s possible to have a sense of euphoria and a deep appreciation of the beauty of life through mindfulness that you couldn’t have through all of the more traditionally recognised avenues to happiness (such as money or even relationships).
Remember to make mindfulness your way of life. Don’t confine it to meditation techniques or meditation practise; these can only take you so far. Whenever you sit down to meditate, do it with the intention to take the mindfulness you cultivate *beyond* the meditation mat and into your life. Whenever you have a seed of mindfulness, be sure to care for it and make it grow.