These days, many people are doing mindfulness meditation practice with specific goals and lots of eagerness. We’ve all heard of its stress-reducing and health benefits. But for beginners, it’s a bit of a challenge to learn the practice. And it’s even hard to find out how to start mindfulness meditation.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness is the ability to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the environment. It involves acceptance, which means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. We don’t believe that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think and feel at any given moment. In mindfulness meditation, we tune our thoughts to what we’re sensing at present. We do not return to the past or look forward to the future.
Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhist meditation. In recent years, this secular practice has entered the American mainstream, thanks to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Since then, thousands of studies have recorded the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness meditation.
One vital aspect of mindfulness meditation is “sampajanna”. This means “clear comprehension”. It’s the ability to see what needs to be done, what you are competent at doing, and how it relates to the larger truth of life.
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Freeing the Mind
How to start mindfulness meditation involves freeing one’s mind. It is central to the practice to let go of material things. The first aspect of this Buddhist practice is knowing the mind. That reveals how and where clinging exists. Examples of clinging are desire, people, pleasure, possessions, opinions, ideals, self-image, and self-judgment. All this limits freedom and peace of mind.
The great thing is that we can release clinging through mindfulness meditation. We can free our minds and develop inner peace. The ultimate aim of this practice is to free the mind and heart. This way, there are no barriers, constrictions or shackles. Complete freedom leads to complete peace, although this is not easy to achieve. We need to learn and train for it.
Knowing, training and freeing one’s mind are done together. The more we know ourselves, the easier for us to train ourselves and release all types of clinging and suffering. The more we are trained, the simpler it is to know ourselves. And the more wisdom and strength we have to let go. The more we let go, the fewer number of barriers to understanding ourselves, and the easier it will be to train the mind.
Caring for one’s mind is a daily task, and it’s the same as caring for one’s body. Our minds also need regular care, exercise, and training. Knowing, training and freeing are the Buddhist methods of caring for the mind. And the goal is freedom from suffering.
Why Practice Mindfulness Meditation?
How to start mindfulness meditation also involves knowing why you should do it. Experts claim that by practicing even just for a few weeks, you can have a lot of benefits.
These benefits affect all aspects of your life:
- It’s good for our bodies. One seminal study reveals that eight weeks of mindfulness meditation boosts the immune system and resistance to illness. It also fights obesity. “Mindful eating” encourages good eating habits and helps people lose weight.
- It’s good for our minds. Studies also reveal that mindfulness increases positive thoughts and feelings. It’s an alternative to antidepressants and prevents relapsing depression.
- It changes our brains. Researchers have found that this practice increases the density of gray matter in the brain. This tissue is linked with regulation of emotions, empathy, learning and memory.
- It helps us focus. Mindfulness meditation helps us block distractions and improve our attention skills.
- It helps us develop compassion and altruism. Mindfulness training makes us care more for others. We are more likely to help someone in need. It also helps us understand what other people are going through with their lives.
- It helps build good relationships. Several couples claim that they are more satisfied with their relationship. This practice makes each person feel more relaxed and optimistic and more accepting to one another.
- It helps develop good parenting skills. Studies reveal that mindfulness meditation reduces stress, depression, and anxiety in pregnant mothers and expectant parents. People who practice this feel much happier and they have good relationships with their kids. Their children also have better social skills.
Mindfulness meditation has been very helpful that it is practiced in various schools, work places, and other institutions.
How to Start Mindfulness Mediation
Mindfulness meditation brings awareness to your breath and helps you detach from thoughts and feelings. Do it at a slow pace, and take long pauses between paragraphs.
Begin by sitting in your regular meditation posture, preferably cross legged on the floor. If that’s difficult, sit on a chair with your back and your shoulders straight. Breathe deeply for a few times and calm your mind and body. Then close your eyes.
Basic script to start mindfulness meditation:
- “Take a long and deep breath into your abdomen and let it fall as you exhale. Continue breathing from your abdomen, not from your chest.
- Breathe naturally. Do not force any set pace or rhythm. Whatever the nature of the breath, accept it as it is.
- Scan your body from head to toe and notice any soreness or tightness in any part of the body.
- Breathe into the tightness and soften it. Breathe and let go, so that all the soreness dissolves.
- Be mindful as your breath moves into the body. Notice the sensations in the chest or in the abdomen, or in both, while breathing.
- Do not be concerned if thoughts, emotions or past experiences pull your attention away from the breath. Acknowledge their presence, let them be, and let them pass away.
- Gently bring your focus back to the breath. Do not struggle.
- Now see the whole process of the breath – the start, middle and end of the rising movement and the start, middle and end of the falling movement.
- If focusing on the breath leads to problems, divert your attention from the breath to sensations from the body.
- Meet and greet the breath experience in an accepting and open manner. In the now.
- One breath. Right here. Right now. Just one breath. Rising… and falling. Rising… and falling.
- If your mind travels to the past or future, notice it as ‘thinking’ or ‘remembering,’ and bring your mind back to the now. Here and Now. Here and Now. Rising and falling. Rising and falling.
- Rest in the awareness.
- Choose to bear the mindfulness of breath into your day-to-day activities.
- When you are ready, open your eyes and raise yourself.
- With practice, you will find that the breath, the breather, and the breathing become one, and the duality and separation dissolves.”
How Binaural Beats Help You in Mindfulness Meditation?
Binaural beats are tools to help you practice your mindfulness meditation better. This involves listening to slightly different frequencies played separately to each ear. Discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove in 1839, binaural beats help induce low-frequency brain activity, like those in meditating Buddhist monks. Along with meditation, binaural beats relieve stress and anxiety, improves memory and raises energy levels.
How do binaural beats work?
Certain frequencies in the brain run the same way as with electrical equipment. These frequencies are also called brainwaves and are measured in Hertz (Hz). When we are anxious, the speed of brainwaves increases. In contrast, this speed decreases when we are relaxed.
Here are the different brainwave states:
- Delta: 1 ~ 4 Hz – Deep sleep, loss of bodily awareness, regenerative effects
- Theta: 4 ~ 8 Hz – Dream state, deep meditation, intuitive awareness, REM sleep
- Alpha: 8 ~ 14 Hz – Awake, focus on the inner world, relaxation
- Beta: 14 ~ 40 Hz – Awake, focus on the outer world, learning and being productive
- Gamma: 40 Hz + – Higher mental activity, complex problem solving, the fight of flight, fear.
Binaural beats recordings send a slightly different sound frequency to each ear through stereo headphones. As you hear these two separate frequencies at the same time, our brain interprets them as one vibrating tone. As a result, the brain is creating a third frequency. This difference in Hertz between the left and right tones is the brain’s interpretation.
Various studies support this amazing natural phenomenon. Evidence consistently shows that binaural beats help one achieve mindfulness. This method has been tested on both seasoned practitioners and those with behavioral and cognitive disorders.
Mindfulness meditation. Summary
Mindfulness meditation allows you to go beneath the surface of moment-to-moment life experience. Buddha tells us that the way to free the mind is through gaining insight. Mindfulness meditation with binaural beats are tools for gaining insight. With them, we can be more aware of ourselves.
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