Simply stated, mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves focusing your mind on the present. To be mindful is to be aware of your thoughts and actions in the present, without judging yourself.
People come to meditation to reduce stress, to get "special" experiences, to better themselves, to become enlightened. All those motivations are valuable to get started. Nevertheless, those expectations soon become deterrents to maintaining a regular meditation practice. To understand how what gets you to meditation can hinder you continuing with mindfulness meditation, it is important to distinguish between "doing" and "being".
The nature of the thinking mind (the mind turned outward) is to do with the expectation that the efforts will quickly yield desired results. We are taught from a tender age to turn out attention outward - out on the senses and thoughts - to get our needs met. In a world addicted to "doing", the outward-turned mind - the thinking mind - reigns supreme. It is not useful during mindfulness meditation to intentionally follow thoughts about the experience you are having (or had or should be having). Judging, analyzing, understanding, comparing, preferring, labeling, story-telling, justifying - all are processes of the outward-turned thinking mind.
Thankfully, the mind also naturally turns inward toward its source - your True Nature. The nature of the mind turned inward is to notice with alert interest, "receiving" what is happening exactly as it is, here and now. The inward-turned mind neither seeks results nor attempts to get better at a practice - its only "activity" is to be conscious, to be present to the experience as it is here and now. We are not conditioned by society to recognize, let alone cultivate, the inward-turned mind.
Mindfulness Meditation, like all mindfulness type of meditations, encourages your attention to turn inward, thereby naturally enlivening your True Nature - your experience of "being". For most, quieting the mind - i.e. turning the mind inward - is a challenge due to accumulated stress in our bodymind. An innerLife Meditation leads your chaotic mind into mindfulness by:
The breath is the link between the body and the mind. Your breath is a direct reflection of how you react to life. Paying attention to your breath in the face of any life situation and using breathing techniques designed to energize or to calm gives you the power to change yourself and consequently, your live.
The power of suggestion mobilizes your mind ability to focus on personally significant images in order to elicit a peaceful and open disposition. The grip of your habitual identification with judgment and unpleasant feelings is lessened, encouraging you to just be with the here and now as it is.
The focused use of a sound (e.g. a vowel or a mantra) synchronizes the mind into a single, concentrated state. Paying attention to the vibrations of the tone, sound or phrase resounding within encourages being present to the here and now as it is.
Feeling the energy flow (prana) within the body is stimulated using intentional breathing exercises (Pranayama) and holding the hands in yogic mudra poses.
Once your mind has settled, a Mindfulness Meditation group session directs your attention to posture as the object of meditation. Each posture (sitting, walking, standing, and reclining) invites you to discover how and where your body holds physical, emotional and mental stress. Paying attention to your breath and remaining the "observer" as you experience these postures begins to integrate mindfulness into everyday living.
Mindfulness gets established with a regular close-eyed meditation practice, but is meant to blossom with the sunlight of your everyday life. In other words, the aim of mindfulness meditation is to make mindfulness continuous. Constant mindfulness can be anchored using environmental cues. Examples of such cues can be the hourly chimes of clocks, red lights at traffic junctions, crossing the threshold of doors. The mindfulness itself can take the form of nothing more than taking three successive breaths while remembering they are a conscious experience of body activity within mind.
The time dedicated to close-eyed meditation doesn't have to be long. It is the consistency of a regular daily practice that yields benefits such as:
Heartsong's innerLife Meditation teaching welcomes all levels of experience. Private or group sessions can be offered in: