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Learn To Meditate

          Learning mindfulness meditation is really very simple. If you’ve tried it before and found it difficult or frustrating, you may have had the wrong idea about what it is.

          The most important thing to know is what it is not.  It is not about making something happen. It’s not about trying to relax, or feel good, or change anything about yourself in any way.  It’s simply about allowing yourself to be quietly present with whatever you happen to be experiencing.

Basic Instructions for Mindfulness Meditation

Preparing for Mindfulness Meditation:

When you’re beginning to learn, it helps to be in a quiet environment
with minimal distractions.
Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes open or closed.
Take two or three deep breaths and each time you breathe out,
invite your body to let go of tension.

Doing Mindfulness Meditation:

Without controlling how you breathe,
be aware of the feeling of the breath in your body
as it flows in
 and flows out.

It's really that simple. You can practice for just 5 minutes at first.  As you become better able to stay present with the feeling of your breath without straining, you can gradually extend the time to 10 or 20 minutes, or as long as you like.

What is Mindfulness Meditation Really About?

          We use an image throughout the site that can help you understand what the experience of mindfulness is like.  The image was developed by Dan Siegel and he calls it the Wheel of Awareness.  

          In brief, the experience of mindfulness meditation can be compared to being calmly and quietly seated at the hub of a wheel while everything you experience (your thoughts, sensations, emotions, all that you see, hear, smell, and touch) is happening out on the rim of the wheel.  

          You’re aware of what’s happening on the rim, but it doesn’t disturb you.  It doesn’t disturb you because you’re not judging it, and you’re not trying to make it other than what it is. We call this experience “remembering to be.”

Common Challenges

          As you practice mindfulness, over time you’ll begin to notice that your mind is constantly looking for stimulation “somewhere else” – that is, somewhere other than where you are and what you’re experiencing in the moment.  You may find your mind dwelling on a conversation you recently had, or going over and over a mistake you think you made.  You may see scenes from a movie or TV show you’ve watched, or your mind may start planning or worrying about something you need to do next week.   

          And so what do you do with these thoughts?

          Nothing.  You don’t have to do anything at all.  Just let them come and go without your interference – like clouds that come and go in the sky.

Techniques as Helpers

          If doing nothing seems too hard, there are a couple of “techniques” you can use to help let the thoughts go and free you to focus on your breath:

Breath Counting:

          Simply count each time you inhale and exhale.   As you inhale, count “1”.  When you exhale, count “2”. Inhale “3”.  Exhale “4”.  Continue until you get to “10,” then start again with “1”.  
          That’s it.  If you lose count, don’t spend even a second being the least bit concerned about it – just go right back to “1.” 

Breathing with Words:

          “Hear” (or silently repeat) a word or pair of words as you inhale and exhale.  For example, as you inhale silently say relax, and as you exhale, silently say peace

          If, after doing the technique for a while, your mind begins to feel focused, you can let go of the technique and return to simply ‘feeling” the breath flow in and out,  just being with whatever you’re experiencing without judging or trying to change it.  

When Mindfulness Clicks In

          At some point in your practice, as you learn to ignore the thoughts that come up and “remember to be,” you may get a glimpse of what it’s like to have no worries about the past or future, to be free of the gnawing sense that you need to be different, or that you need something or someone else to be different in order to feel happy.  That glimpse can be so powerful that you'll feel motivated to keep practicing.

How Does Learning to “Do Nothing” Help Me Achieve My Goals?

          You might wonder, “If I’m happy and content doing nothing, will I lose my motivation to accomplish things?  Is there anything ‘wrong’ with being ambitious or working toward accomplishing goals?”

          In fact, you’ll find, as you learn to be more and more “present” in the midst of whatever you’re doing, you’ll actually have more energy to accomplish your goals.  As your mind becomes less caught up in worries and concerns about the past, present, and future, you’ll have more energy and attention to give to whatever you're doing, and to the people around you.

If you’d like to be guided through a mindfulness meditation,
there are guided audio and videos available in our Store.

Living From the Core
Remembering to Breathe

          The experience of going through your day seated in the hub of your wheel of awareness, being mindfully present to whatever is happening in and around you, is what we call living from the core.  The “core” is just another word for “hub” and it refers to an inner experience of calm, contentment, and non-reactivity in the midst of outer activity.  Your mid-prefrontal cortex and heart brain are more active, enabling you to think more clearly, feel more deeply, and have more access to the wisdom and intuition your heart brain can offer.

          Quite naturally, you begin to experience yourself and others with greater kindness and compassion.  You feel more connected to the larger world of people and events, and your actions more naturally flow from a genuine feeling of goodwill and helpfulness.   

          Remember to breathe is our shorthand way of saying:  Take a moment to pause in the midst of your day to connect to your core, and then allow its calm, clarity, and goodwill to express through you as you return to whatever you were doing.