The benefits of meditation have been proven for years. It’s a great tool for emotional self-regulation, used in schools and jails alike. When hearing the word meditation, most think of candles, incense and mantras. This is how we imagine meditation. Sitting in a lotus pose or lying in a corpse pose, seeking to let go of our thoughts, and empty our minds. But it doesn’t necessarily has to look like that.
Mindful meditation is all about awareness and presence. We can practice it anytime, anywhere. During a walk, or in a conversation. One of the best ways to be mindful is to listen to someone speak. And not by trying to figure out what we will react next, but just by paying close attention to what he is saying, without allowing our thoughts to emerge. Because what is this awareness we are trying to achieve? It’s not letting our thoughts take over and take us back to the past, or draw various scenarios of the future.
If we want to be present, we should only perceive what is around us. The ground under our feet, the sun in our face or the rustling of the leaves in the wind. There’s nothing mystical about it. Most times we are much closer to a meditative state, than we would think we are. For me, my most favourite practice of mindfulness is hiking. The noise of the city disappears. The thumping of the ground under my feet is what brings me back to the present moment. If a thought appears, I just pay attention to where it came from. I acknowledge the importance of the past experience, why it appeared, but I let it go, without allowing it to take over. I bring my attention back to my environment, to the sun rays piercing through the dense of the forest, or the crackle of the leaves under my boots. There are also some less pleasant ways to ground ourselves. One of them is pain. We spend almost our entire lives trying to avoid pain, not thinking for a second, that it can be a good thing. Still, pain is always forcing us to be in the here and now. I remember last year, I had a tough time hiking due to a knee pain. After these hikes my body was always exhausted, however my mind was always clear. There was no place for wandering thoughts in my head, no time to daydream. All my senses were focused on the ground beneath my feet. One wrong step, and the consequence would be even more pain. If all our decisions would be taken in a state of such consciousness, we probably would need to spend a lot less time thinking about past mistakes.
That’s mindfulness. Letting our brain rest in these crazy times. Even if just for 10 minutes a day, let’s take time off from thinking, and just contemplate. Observe. Perceive. Sense.