Along with exercise, rediscovering my meditation practice has become a priority for me this year. Before I had Freya, I had meditated every single day for just over 2 1⁄2 yrs. I didn’t miss a day. All that changed when sleep and routine went out of the window, and getting back into it was even harder once chronic migraine was added to the mix.
Now I am not aiming for every day, I’m aiming for 5 days a week. I’m not sitting for 20mins anymore, but 6-8mins of gentle, often guided practice. Some days though I only manage 2-3mins. That’s OK! A little like my approach to fitness, with meditation some is absolutely better than none.
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
As with anything, consistent practice is the key to habit formation. My key piece of advice for anyone who wants to develop a meditation practice is this - keep it simple, and start small.
Taking time to sit down and pay attention to the present moment each day becomes easier as it becomes habitual. During practice, returning the focus to the breath again and again likewise becomes easier with repeated practice.
A Super Simple Practice
Back in October 2015, I participated in the Mindfulness Summit run by Melli of Mrs Mindfulness. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot. Professor Mark Williams offered the following three minute/three breath practice that I still use, and that you can try any time of the day.
Take a minute or so running through the stages below. This could form the basis of your simple daily practice. It is also simple enough to try on the train or bus, in the park on your lunch break, or even at your work desk when you need a quiet moment.
How does the body feel right now?
What is going on in the mind?
Can you tune into your attitude to this present moment? How are you relating to your experience right now?
Notice the breath in the body, notice the inhale and the exhale
You can place your attention on one specific area of the body - nostrils, chest, abdomen
Become aware of the entire field of bodily sensations
Alternatively, rest with the sensations of the whole body breathing
Aware of the body sitting, watching the breath
Aware of sensations, thoughts, emotions, images in the mind as they rise and fall
As the timer rings, thank yourself for taking this time to practice
Take a deep breath in and out, before proceeding with your day
Each time we practice mindful awareness of the present moment, we use particular neural pathways to facilitate this experience. The more frequently we intentionally shift our attention in this way, the stronger these connections become. As they say, neurons that fire together, wire together. Repetition is key.
This rewiring of the brain, and training of the mind doesn’t require complicated tasks or a huge amount of effort. We can change our brains and learn to live with more awake awareness through simple, small moments of mindfulness taken everyday.
Keep it simple, start small, and keep going.