Mindful Meditation

Paper I Submitted for my Atlantic University TP5010 Course – July 28, 2019

Meditation is one of the oldest and most time-honored practices. As Eastern traditions merge with our Western culture, it is practiced more regularly as its benefits become more wildly understood. In his book, Meditation for Beginners, Jack Kornfield says that when we take the time to quiet ourselves, we can live more compassionate and “awake” lives, and meditation is the key to bringing these “inner potentials” front and center (2008, p. 2).

Most people don’t know where to begin. They conjure up images of Buddhist monks living on the side of a mountain in total silence for days. They worry they could never stay quiet for that long, nor do they have the time.

When I began meditating, I started slowly. I found an app for my iPhone that included guided meditations and a timer. I chose five minutes at first until I got the hang of it, and then extended the period to 10 minutes, and finally to 20 minutes. I use a Muse headband, which records my brainwaves while I meditate. It determines how quiet my mind is during a session as well as allowing me to choose either a guided meditation or just appropriate music. I can also select the duration.

As Kornfield points out, learning to meditate is just like learning to play a new sport or instrument. The first step is finding a meditation that is appealing, and work with it every day until you get the hang of it (2008, p. 2).

An effective form of meditation is what Kornfield describes as “Mindful Meditation,” which helps develop an “immediate awareness of one’s experience in all spheres of activities.” It also allows the individual to “discover a way to develop a stillness in the midst of activity” (2008, p. 3). The trick is to separate your mind from your thoughts so that you can observe what happens as you sit quietly.

One critical component to successful meditation is the time of day you choose. Some are morning people; others choose the end of the day and use meditation as a form of relaxation.

I have developed a routine that works best for me. In the morning, I do a thirty-minute walk in nature, which helps me get in the right frame of mind. I then take a shower, since as Edgar Cayce points out, it’s essential to be clean on the inside when approaching the Universe, and a shower is a way of manifesting the external, internally. I then do a 5-minute chakra clearing and embark on my 20-minute meditation. I am now relaxed from the walk and shower, and I am ready to mediate. If I meditate in the evenings, I tend to fall asleep, which has happened on more than one occasion.

Another key to successful meditation is location. A place that is quiet where there are no distractions is paramount. If a stay at home mom, for example, elects to meditate in the kitchen while her children are running around, it will not be a rewarding experience. Some people sit on the floor, and others prefer a mat or chair. I use a comfortable chair. It shouldn’t be too soft, however, since you don’t want to fall asleep.

I have created a small “sanctuary” in my attic. I have candles, and an incense holder so I can create the proper ambiance if I choose. I also have a Cross on the desk, and I typically select peaceful nature sounds for background music. I know that when I go up to the attic, I will not be disturbed, and I have created a warm and welcoming environment. The key is that it’s quiet, personal, and easily accessible.

As the meditation begins, I take three deep breaths. It helps me segue into the meditation. Kornfield outlines a “Lovingkindness Meditation” where an individual can send kind thoughts to themselves, their family, friends, community, and finally, the world at large (2008, 63-69). I have incorporated this practice at the beginning of my meditation, which lasts approximately 2 and ½ minutes. I then begin to quiet my mind.

My biggest distraction, and for most, is what Kornfield describes as a wandering mind. The first thing you notice is that your thoughts are not you. I start planning the day, reminiscing about something that happened recently, having an imaginary conversation, or fantasizing about a trip I have planned. Kornfield suggests labeling each of these two or three times, such as “planning, planning, planning,” or “thinking, thinking, thinking,” or “remembering, remembering, remembering.” I find labeling something more than once is distracting, so I only do it once, like “conversation.”

It’s also essential to have an anchor to return once your mind wanders. Kornfield includes a “Connecting with the Breath” meditation, and focusing on your breathing is the most common anchor. It’s like “home base,” where you can return each time you drift away. I have also used white noise as an anchor. For example, I have a portable AC unit in the attic, and I sometimes focus on the humming sound it makes as my anchor.

The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind completely, although distractions you encounter are important insights into where your mind is at. Issues raised to the surface are insightful, so it’s essential to keep a meditation journal where you can jot down your experiences at the conclusion of each session.

When I achieve complete stillness, I feel my vibrational levels rise, particularly in my crown chakra. There are also times where the haze in my mind’s eye clears away, and I can see what appears to be a star-filled sky. I can’t hold this sensation for very long, but I know at this point, I am starting to connect with the Cosmic Consciousness. With more practice, I hope to sustain this longer.

After my meditation concludes with the sound of my Muse timer, I continue sitting in my chair for a few moments, and I pray. First, I give thanks for the time I’ve had to conduct the meditation. Then I express gratitude for my life and for my family. Finally, I pray for any particular intention, like for someone who is sick or in crisis. I then leave my sanctuary and return to my normal life refreshed and ready to tackle the day!

Most people don’t know where to begin. They conjure up images of Buddhist monks living on the side of a mountain in total silence for days. They worry they could never stay quiet for that long, nor do they have the time.

When I began meditating, I started slowly. I found an app for my iPhone that included guided meditations and a timer. I chose five minutes at first until I got the hang of it, and then extended the period to 10 minutes, and finally to 20 minutes. I use a Muse headband, which records my brainwaves while I meditate. It determines how quiet my mind is during a session as well as allowing me to choose either a guided meditation or just appropriate music. I can also select the duration.

As Kornfield points out, learning to meditate is just like learning to play a new sport or instrument. The first step is finding a meditation that is appealing, and work with it every day until you get the hang of it (2008, p. 2).

An effective form of meditation is what Kornfield describes as “Mindful Meditation,” which helps develop an “immediate awareness of one’s experience in all spheres of activities.” It also allows the individual to “discover a way to develop a stillness in the midst of activity” (2008, p. 3). The trick is to separate your mind from your thoughts so that you can observe what happens as you sit quietly.

One critical component to successful meditation is the time of day you choose. Some are morning people; others choose the end of the day and use meditation as a form of relaxation.

I have developed a routine that works best for me. In the morning, I do a thirty-minute walk in nature, which helps me get in the right frame of mind. I then take a shower, since as Edgar Cayce points out, it’s essential to be clean on the inside when approaching the Universe, and a shower is a way of manifesting the external, internally. I then do a 5-minute chakra clearing and embark on my 20-minute meditation. I am now relaxed from the walk and shower, and I am ready to mediate. If I meditate in the evenings, I tend to fall asleep, which has happened on more than one occasion.

Another key to successful meditation is location. A place that is quiet where there are no distractions is paramount. If a stay at home mom, for example, elects to meditate in the kitchen while her children are running around, it will not be a rewarding experience. Some people sit on the floor, and others prefer a mat or chair. I use a comfortable chair. It shouldn’t be too soft, however, since you don’t want to fall asleep.

I have created a small “sanctuary” in my attic. I have candles, and an incense holder so I can create the proper ambiance if I choose. I also have a Cross on the desk, and I typically select peaceful nature sounds for background music. I know that when I go up to the attic, I will not be disturbed, and I have created a warm and welcoming environment. The key is that it’s quiet, personal, and easily accessible.

As the meditation begins, I take three deep breaths. It helps me segue into the meditation. Kornfield outlines a “Lovingkindness Meditation” where an individual can send kind thoughts to themselves, their family, friends, community, and finally, the world at large (2008, 63-69). I have incorporated this practice at the beginning of my meditation, which lasts approximately 2 and ½ minutes. I then begin to quiet my mind.

My biggest distraction, and for most, is what Kornfield describes as a wandering mind. The first thing you notice is that your thoughts are not you. I start planning the day, reminiscing about something that happened recently, having an imaginary conversation, or fantasizing about a trip I have planned. Kornfield suggests labeling each of these two or three times, such as “planning, planning, planning,” or “thinking, thinking, thinking,” or “remembering, remembering, remembering.” I find labeling something more than once is distracting, so I only do it once, like “conversation.”

It’s also essential to have an anchor to return once your mind wanders. Kornfield includes a “Connecting with the Breath” meditation, and focusing on your breathing is the most common anchor. It’s like “home base,” where you can return each time you drift away. I have also used white noise as an anchor. For example, I have a portable AC unit in the attic, and I sometimes focus on the humming sound it makes as my anchor.

The goal of meditation is to quiet the mind completely, although distractions you encounter are important insights into where your mind is at. Issues raised to the surface are insightful, so it’s essential to keep a meditation journal where you can jot down your experiences at the conclusion of each session.

When I achieve complete stillness, I feel my vibrational levels rise, particularly in my crown chakra. There are also times where the haze in my mind’s eye clears away, and I can see what appears to be a star-filled sky. I can’t hold this sensation for very long, but I know at this point, I am starting to connect with the Cosmic Consciousness. With more practice, I hope to sustain this longer.

After my meditation concludes with the sound of my Muse timer, I continue sitting in my chair for a few moments, and I pray. First, I give thanks for the time I’ve had to conduct the meditation. Then I express gratitude for my life and for my family. Finally, I pray for any particular intention, like for someone who is sick or in crisis. I then leave my sanctuary and return to my normal life refreshed and ready to tackle the day!

References

Kornfield, J. (1990). Meditation for beginners, Sounds True: Boulder, CO

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