When I was first learning about mindfulness I thought I was not cut out for mindfulness meditation. Any time that I tried to meditate I felt like I had failed.
No matter how hard I tried I found it difficult to sit still. And as for clearing all the thoughts from my head?!? No way, that was never going to happen!
But (as with many things in life!) I was wrong. Let me explain.
Mindfulness vs Mindfulness Meditation
First of all it is important to clarify that while the words mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably there is a clear distinction between the two terms.
Mindfulness refers to a way of being where as individuals we focus on the present moment. When we are mindful we are present in body AND in mind.
It is absolutely possible to be mindful without meditating. In fact, some of the most mindful people that I know have never meditated for a second in their lives!
Mindfulness meditation refers to a specific activity that we can do to maintain our focus on the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is often referred to as a practice. Because that is exactly what we are doing. We are practicing focusing our attention.
If you were going to teach a child how to ride a bike you would take them to a quiet spot, you would make sure that you were wearing a helmet and maybe even elbow and shoulder pads. You would create the best possible conditions for the child to be successful.
That is exactly what you are doing with mindfulness meditation. You are practicing the art of noticing your thoughts in a completely safe environment and you are building your mental muscle.
The practice that we get noticing our thoughts while meditating stands us in good stead when we are trying to do the same thing in the course of the day when we have the hustle and bustle of normal daily life to contend with.
How Mindfulness Meditation Works
In Mindfulness Meditation our aim is to focus our attention on something (e.g. this could be our breath, a particular area of our body etc) and when our mind starts to wander we redirect our attention back to our point of focus.
Let’s keep things very simple and you can try for yourself:
- Get in a comfortable position
- Close your eyes or soften your gaze
- Focus on your breath
- When your mind wanders (it will!) return attention to your breath
- When you are ready, open your eyes and become aware of surroundings
Mindfulness Meditation With a Wandering Mind
The reason that many people think that they are getting mindfulness meditation ‘wrong’ or that they ‘can’t do it’ is because their mind wanders during the practice.
I finally had my breakthrough moment with mindfulness mediation when I finally realised and accepted that my mind WILL wander. No matter how experienced you become with mindfulness meditation your mind will wander. And it doesn’t matter.
Perhaps your mind will wander 10 times in the course of a minute. There is nothing wrong with you. This does not mean that you ‘can’t meditate’. It is perfectly natural.
The important thing is that you notice that your mind has wandered and you bring your attention back to the breath each time. The more your practice the easier it will be to notice that your mind has wandered and that you bring your attention back to the breath.
Notice that I did not say the more you practice the less your mind will wander! Mind wandering is perfectly natural. Refocusing your attention is what you need to prac
How Mindfulness Meditation Can Help You In The Real World
Mindfulness mediation is your training zone. It’s a bit like taking your mind to the gym, to build up your muscle of attention so that you are better able to focus your attention where you want it to go.
The consequence of practicing building your muscle of attention with mindfulness meditation is that you will be better able to maintain your attention and direct it to where you want it to go in your day to day life.
For example, if you decide that your priority for the day is to spend time with a family member you are less likely to get distracted by scrolling through your phone or getting caught up with items on your to do list. And if you do get distracted you are much more likely to NOTICE that you have got distracted and refocus your attention where you want it to go.
Would you like to try Mindfulness Meditation for yourself? Get instant access to my 5 Minute Breathing Space recording and enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of your busy life. I’ll also share some hints and tips to help you build your mindfulness muscle and stay focused on the things that are important to you.