A lot of people confuse meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t a technique of meditation. It’s rather a quality of the mind itself. It’s simply an undistracted attention to the present moment. It is about noticing the sights, sounds, sensations, and even thoughts that are arising in consciousness at each moment. Mindfulness is your ability to pay attention to the present moment.
Broadly there are 2 ways to practice mindfulness or meditation.
Many of you must have heard about the first one. We do this practice by choosing a point of concentration. For instance, you may choose “breathing”. All your concentration will be centered on inhalation and exhalation of breath. The definition sounds simple but the problem is, most people can only concentrate for only a brief period of time. If I ask you to just concentrate on hearing your breathing sounds for 5 mins…. Do you think, it’s doable? Well, unfortunately, 30 seconds also becomes tough for many people! Therefore, you must take assistance while doing these practices.
The 2nd type of practice is the opposite of concentration. You simply allow all the sights, sounds, sensations, and even thoughts to come and go naturally as they do and never try to control them. Never try to force anything. You are simply required to experience it as widely as you can without any judgment.
Many a time, these practices can be run in combination as well.
The important thing to notice here is that these practices are not about nullifying your thoughts or being completely thoughtless. Well, scientifically speaking, this is not even possible. You will always have thoughts. The problem with most of us is – we don’t notice while we are thinking. We are always lost in our thoughts. Therefore, our consciousness constantly interferes with the subconscious brain’s background processes.
Meditation – As you pay attention to the breath, you will notice other perceptions, sensations in your body, or sounds, maybe tingling sensations somewhere in your body, itching sensation, or maybe some physical pain, notice these things too for a while and then just come back to the feeling of breathing.
Once you catch yourself identified with some thoughts, slowly come back to the practice again
Notice everything without any judgment. Judgment in fact is just another thought
The moment you become aware that you are thinking something (with images, or language) observe the thought itself, then come back to the sensation of breathing
See if you feel the next inhalation from the moment it appears until the moment it subsides
And do the same with the next exhalation
Meditation is a very simple practice to do but if done properly, it is extraordinarily profound. These simple steps if followed correctly can be your first steps toward spiritual awakening.