Given meditation’s long history and evolution, there are many different types to try out, and endless reasons anyone would want to give them a go. Mindful meditation is one of those practices, and it involves taking a break (anywhere from one minute to an hour or more) from our busy lives each day in order to live in the now. Easier said than done, but besides just giving yourself a break from wandering thoughts and worries, this time can also be used to become a more compassionate and aware person.
The purpose of breathing meditation is not to slow or regulate your breathing, but to notice it. Isn’t it crazy how something as essential as breathing happens to be something we NEVER think about? A breathing meditation will bring the present moment forward. The more you notice your breath, the less your thoughts will wander.
Try this: Sit in an upright but relaxed position and close your eyes, hands resting comfortably. Focus on your breath going in and out, up and down. Notice the way the movement of the breath feels in your stomach, chest and nostrils. Instead of reflecting on how it feels, just notice it come and go. Do this for ten minutes. Whenever you drift away, simply direct your mind back to the breath.
Many people meditate in order to feel more compassion for themselves and others. When we feel lost or stressed, we have a tendency to be tough on ourselves. Meditating for compassion gives you time to go easy on yourself and think of people in your life who you want to wish well.
Try this: Focus on someone in your life that brings you joy, such as a loved one. Direct concise positive thoughts toward them: May you be free from stress, May you be safe and happy, etc. Add as many good vibes as you want. After awhile, change the focus to yourself; instead of “you” the phrases will be “I”. Health? Confidence? Happiness? Wish this for yourself. Try this for someone you don’t normally feel totally compassionate toward – an acquaintance or someone you’ve had a difficult relationship with. Over time, you’ll transform these negative thoughts.
While I love to use singing bowls and healing chants in my regular meditation, you can also meditate on the sounds going on around you. If you live on a busy street or want to meditate in nature, you’ll hear sounds (both relaxing and annoying!) during these exercises. With this, you bring “background” noise to the forefront, and it’s one of the best ways to focus on what’s going on in the present.
Try this: Sit outside or by an open window for. Start with breathing to calm the mind. Whenever you start to notice sounds, just let your mind shift focus. The trick is to only focus on one sound at a time – a bird chirping or car driving by. Once the sound is gone or something else comes into focus, move on. By doing this, you appreciate the little things coming and going at that very moment.
Don’t just wait until you have time to spare – meditation is often most necessary when you feel overwhelmed.