What is it?
Mindful meditation is a simple a form of meditation which, at its most basic, might involve focusing on one's breath whilst in a relaxed state, and observing in a detached manner any thoughts or feelings which arise. In doing so, you start learn that they come and go spontaneously, and are transient unless you engage with them and act on them. They are like dandelion seeds which will just blow on over you, unless you choose to let them take root.
To be 'mindful' is to be aware, and mindful meditation brings you back to an awareness of the here and now; of what your body and mind are doing; without any sense of judgement about it or feeling a need to do anything about the experience.
How does it work?
The way we use language shows how we tend to self-identify with our feelings: "I am angry" instead of "I feel angry"; "I am anxious" rather than "I feel anxious", and we allow thoughts to dictate how we feel, and feelings to dictate behaviour.
The goal is to be present and aware in the moment. Meditation while
focusing on breathing and learning to recognise, acknowledge and then
let go of those unwanted feelings or thoughts is the start. In doing so you learn to relax both body and mind, and releasing tension in the body and mind leads to a greater ability to manage potentially stressful situations without getting caught up in them.
How can it help me?
People who dwell on their thoughts and
feelings often get stuck - they ruminate and worry about them or try to
block or deny them because strong feelings and unwanted thoughts can
feel dangerous. All this leads to anxiety and depression. But thoughts
and feelings are what you have, not who or what you are. The purpose
behind mindful meditation is to realise that you are not your
thoughts or feelings.
Once this realisation has taken place and a mindful state can be recalled at will, your thoughts and feelings cease to have such an imperative quality about them. You can be aware of and observe them, and choose to engage with them or not; you can even, as you become more skilled at the practice, decide to have different, more helpful thoughts and feelings. Rather than being blown hither and thither by your uncontrolled thoughts or feelings, you are in control to choose where they take you.The goal is to be present and aware in the moment. Meditation while focusing on breathing and learning to recognise, acknowledge and then let go of those unwanted feelings or thoughts is the start.
Mindful meditation needs to be grounded in the 'real' world - the world of work, college or school, or home. When children play they are frequently totally absorbed in the activity to the exclusion of everything else, but this is a knack we seem to lose as we get older. To be totally present though, to give your full attention to something, makes the experience of whatever you are doing richer and fuller. This is how I teach and practise mindfulness.