Meditation and Mindfulness
More and more people are becoming interested in mindfulness and meditation. I thought I’d share information on the benefits of a mindful practice and how to build a regular practice into your daily life.
In yoga, we have three different words to describe different states of meditation practice:-
Dhāraṇā – concentration
Dhyānam – meditation
Samādhi – integration / complete absorption
When we do a seated practice most of the time we’re in a state of concentration (Dhāraṇā). As we become more experienced we are able to hold our attention on a single point of focus for longer periods of time (Dhyānam). Very occasionally we may enter a state where we are completely integrated (Samādhi) it’s as if we are absent.
We will explore these ideas in the next yoga workshop – Being More Mindful 29th May at Swansea Wellbeing Centre.
There’s a common misconception that during meditation we’re aiming to stop our thoughts. Occasionally whilst mediating our thoughts might slow down and be focused in one place but we’re not trying to empty our mind.
Benefits of practice
There are many benefits of practising mediation including improving our ability to focus, managing stress levels and helping us to notice our thoughts. A regular practice can help us to feel more relaxed lower blood pressure, anxiety levels and improve our sleep.
Meditation and Mindfulness what’s the difference?
Both meditation and mindfulness are tools we use to notice our thought patterns.
Mindfulness is less formal practice, we aim to become aware of our thoughts during other activities. We are tuning into the present moment awareness, by fully experiencing our senses and being very present in the activity we are doing. E.g you can walk mindfully or eating mindfully where you engage all of your senses. Yoga posture practice and breathing practice could be described as a mindful practice.
Meditation is a more formal practice, we choose a point of focus and aim to hold our attention in the present moment being, whilst observing movements of our mind. During mediation, we tend to sit still and we notice what arises in the present moment. When we notice our mind drifting away from the point of focus we gently guide it back. Generally, during a meditation practice we’re not doing any other activity.
Types of practice
There are two main types of practice guided and non-guided. With guided practice there are many different points of focus, including body scan, breath, visualisation or reciting an affirmation or mantra.
If you’re new to practice I recommend trying a variety of types of mindfulness or meditation techniques until you find one that resonates with you.
Once you have, it’s good practice to continue to use the same technique for a number of months. This could either be non-guided or continuing to listen to the same guided meditation. This will help you to build the practice of concentration.
However, if you find your mind is easily distracted you might prefer to follow a guided practice course with a sequence of mediations that develop daily following a similar theme. This can be great for beginners but it won’t hone your concentration skills as much as sticking with the same practice does.
Making Time to Meditate
I’d recommend trying to build up to a formal practice of at least 10 minutes every day. That’s 1% of your day.
I find by dedicating that time in the morning I gain time through the day as I’m more focused and efficient at completing tasks. I’d recommend just trying to establish the habit to begin with by doing a 2-minute meditation in the same place and roughly the same time every day. Once you’ve established this habit, then try to increase the time you sit for.
I also find that a 1-minute check-in (pit-stop) is a really useful practice to bring yourself into the present moment. I use a few triggers to check-in and notice how I am, like every time I wash my hands and when I’m waiting at a red traffic light. I also use a random timer on my phone to remind me to check-in.
Choosing supporting tools
There are many books, podcasts and apps available to support your mediation practice.
When deciding on a meditation app or podcast try a few. Most apps have a free trial for a week. Choose someone whose voice suits you. Listen to their beginners’ courses and see what they cover.
I particularly like Brightminds for their embodied approach to mediation and the ability to transfer skills to daily life. Insight timer is also a great app for both guided and non-guided meditation, you can vary the length of time and set interval bells to bring you back to the present moment. Other popular apps include Dharma Seed, Headspace, Calm.
Learn in person
If you’d like to start a mindfulness class. I lead a small group practice on Thursdays 13:00-13:30 at The Swansea Wellbeing Centre, (donation based sessions).
If you’d like to learn how to be more mindful in your yoga practice and daily life book a place in the next yoga workshop – being more mindful on Sat 29th May at Swansea Wellbeing Centre
If you’re looking for support to establish a home practice you might like to come to my next mindful change course start in September 2021.
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