While breathing techniques are a big part of meditation, there are additional techniques that will help you enhance your awareness and become more mindful. So much is going on around us at all times, yet most of the time, we move through the day on autopilot.
These exercises are designed to strengthen you mind, in the same way push-ups are meant to strengthen your body. They are also fun and will make your day more enjoyable and alive.
You’ll be keeping your eyes open for this meditation. The exercise is enormously helpful in preventing your focus from wandering. Start by choosing an object. It can be anything – a flower, a picture, an interesting design, a candle … anything that touches your fancy. It should be the right size for you to observe it easily in its entirety. The purpose of the object is to be your focal point when your attention strays.
Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes to become relaxed. When you feel ready, open your eyes and observe the chosen object. Notice any lights and shadows falling on the object. Notice the texture. Is it smooth, bumpy, silky? Imagine what it would feel to the touch. Notice the different shades of color.
Keep breathing slowly. Make no judgments about the object. You’re simply an observer. Continue as long as you wish. Ten minutes is a good time. If your mind wanders, let your awareness return to the object. Since modern life can assault our senses on a daily basis, we can remain oblivious to the beauty around us. How often do we really notice our surroundings? This quiet exercise is helpful in keeping your focus sharp.
Body Scan Meditation
This mindful meditation is useful in releasing tension at the end of a day and in helping you fall asleep easily. Tension can frequently settle in specific areas of the body, such as shoulders, bringing on aches and fatigue. This will draw attention to trouble spots and help you relax. Sit or lay anywhere you are comfortable. Close your eyes and breathe in and out for 5 minutes to enhance relaxation.
As you breathe, become aware of various body parts. Start with the toes and feet. Move to the ankles and up the legs. As you notice any tension, breathe into it, then exhale.
Keep breathing as your awareness moves past your hips to your torso. Breathe into any tension that you may notice. Keep breathing and notice your arms, hands and fingers. Continue to breathe into spots that feel tense.
As you continue to breathe, move your awareness to your shoulders, neck, face, and skull. Breathe slowly into any tension spots. Spend as much time on any tense spot as is necessary. This is a wonderful exercise to relieve tension, calm your mind and hone the way we deal with stress.
Mindful Meditation and the Brain
Until recently, scientists regarded the brain as mass inside our head. Nothing more and nothing less. It was believed that as adults, we are stuck with the neurology cards we were handed at birth for life. That theory has been proven to be false.
With the use of MRIs, neuroscientists have discovered that: a) we have far more control over our brain than previously thought; b) changes in the brain can be quantified, and c) we can change our thinking to improve our lives.
The fact is, our brain keeps changing throughout our life. The remarkable truth about mindful meditation is that is allows us to control those changes.
For centuries, we have enjoyed the truth of Rene Descartes words, “I think, therefore I am.” Modern science now allows us to amend that bit of wisdom to, “I think, therefore I control who I am.” The realization that we have the power to influence the workings of our brain has many far-reaching potentials.
We are seeing that a mere 30 minutes of mindful meditation each day can have a measurable effect on various areas of the brain. Let’s take a look at what is being discovered.