I kind of understood what mindfulness was, right from the beginning, but when I first started meditating, I had no idea whether I was “doing it right”.
It took me a number of weeks listening to a variety of meditation guides to understand that there is no “doing it right”.
The only “doing it right” looks (to me) something like the following:
I’m sitting comfortably in silence and still
I’m trying to focus on a “home base”, be that my breath, feeling the energy field in my body and limbs, or the noises I can hear
My thinking mind inevitably wanders off and starts thinking about something other than my “home base”
I bring my mind back on to focusing on my “home base” without judging it’s aberration from the task in hand
Rinse & repeat
The point of focusing on a “home base” is to lead your mind away from its usual “thinking” – whether that be something from your past, something about the future, a judgment it’s making right now on something it can hear etc – and in to focused sensory awareness of the present moment and exactly what it happening right now in that moment.
What is happening right now might be an inhalation and the cold feeling of the air flowing into your nostrils; it might be the warm feeling of the energy swirling in your fingers, or the sound of a car driving past outside with some birds singing in the background.
Whatever that sensory awareness is, you explore it, you watch it, you feel it, you hear it, and that is all. You don’t judge it, you don’t form an opinion of it – you simply witness it.
You as the silent witness, simply watch whatever is going on in your stream of consciousness.
Only a few moments into your efforts, you’ll realize that you've just spent the last 3 or 4 minutes down a rabbit trail of analysis and judgment about something wholly unrelated to the rise and fall of your breath in your belly.
Frustration will arise, you’ll get annoyed with yourself, and you’ll wonder if this is all worth it, why the hell you’re doing it. But like anything, it’s simply practice.
After a while, you’ll realize that you are not your mind, you are not your thoughts, and you’ll develop the ability to bring your mind back to your “home base” without judging or berating it You’ll simply realize you’ve wandered off course and come back to the present.
And that time you spend in the present will get longer, and the rabbit trails a little shorter, and a sense of peace will start to seep in.
And that's when you'll start to think "I might be doing this right..."
Stay Zen -
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“Hyper-aware” is how I would describe one state I get into when meditating. “Frustrated”, “annoyed” and most certainly “not zen”, depending on how busy my mind happens to be at the time I sit down, are other states I get into!