How does it work and what is it good for?
Meditation can be practised by focusing the mind on one object (like a flame) or motion (like one’s breathing) for a set period of time in order to calm the endless chatter of the mind and become more clear, energised and peaceful. Mindfulness can be practised in sessions or in one’s daily life by focusing fully on what one is doing, without thinking of the past or the future and simply concentrating on what is to be done right now (like eating – chewing slowly, experiencing the process of eating with all senses without doing anything else at the same time, like socialising, reading or listening to somebody else).
Meditation/mindfulness can be practised several times a day, daily or weekly, alone or in groups. The aim is to incorporate a meditative/mindful state of being into one’s everyday life, which means that one stays in the here and now and does everything mindfully every single second.
The most helpful positions in meditation are sitting with a straight spine or, if sitting is not possible, lying down, in order to keep the spine straight. One can start with 5 to 10 minutes a week and then 5 to 10 minutes a day or 30 minutes a week. Some people choose to participate in a ‘retreat’, which can take a day, 10 days or even a month.
The mind’s chatter goes on and on, but while meditating or being mindful, one tries to become witness to what the mind is thinking rather than following those thoughts. It is about being in the here and now, observing what comes through the senses and the mind without labelling or judging anything.
Some people find it helpful to imagine thoughts as clouds. One becomes aware of a thought or thought pattern and lets it go like a cloud in the wind. It is very difficult not to hang on to thoughts and following them, but one of the goals of meditation/mindfulness is to let go of all attachment.
Meditation and mindfulness help gaining clarity and taking decisions from a place of calmness and peacefulness.
Another aim of meditation/mindfulness is to become aware of emotions and what or whom they are attached to. When an emotion arises, it can be helpful to observe how it arises, from where it arises, where in the body it is felt and what thoughts are attached to it. Sometimes it becomes clear what the underlying emotion is and the origin of it. “Sitting with it” and letting an emotion go through the body without hanging on to it, can be very healing.
Many people feel like giving up on meditation or mindfulness practice when they realise, that – even after long term practice – the mind never stops thinking. The key is to accept the mind’s chatter and simply not hanging on to it by judging or questioning it.
It is very helpful to go into meditation without any goals or tasks – not even the aim to calm the mind and find peace inside. Simply setting a time frame and choosing a meditation practice is needed. And then it is just about letting go of any attachment. It’s the labelling, the judging and the trying to make sense of things that keep us hanging on.
The idea is to become free; – free from religion, morals, ethics and conditions. It is about letting the heart’s wisdom guide through life, using the mind as a helpful tool, but letting it not take over.
One will find calmness, compassion, peace and the essence of life, when practising mindfulness or meditation. A calm, peaceful, compassionate being will spread calmness, peace and compassion and be a magnet and a guide to others who seek those qualities.