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Formal meditation
A formal mindfulness routine lies at the heart of a mindful way of living. Without such a routine, you may struggle to be mindful in your daily life. Formal practice is mindfulness meditation you specifically make time for in your day – it doesn’t mean you need to put on some special dress to perform them!

Meditation is like diving to the bottom of the ocean, where the water is still. The waves (thoughts) are at the surface, but you’re watching them from a deeper, more restful depth. To submerge to that peaceful depth takes time. Extended meditations in these formal practices offer the diving equipment for you to safely reach those tranquil places. You decide when and how long you’re going to meditate, and you do it. What are we waiting fro ? Let us begin!

 

Savouring Eating Meditation

Try this eating meditation the first time you practise mindfulness. Starting with eating meditation demonstrates the simplicity of meditation. Mindfulness
meditation isn’t about sitting cross-legged for hours on end, it’s about the awareness you bring to each present moment. Meditation is about living with an open and curious awareness. Anything done with mindful awareness is meditation, including eating, driving, walking, talking and much more. 

 The Chocolate Exercise

 Get hold of a single chocolate and find somewhere quiet where you can sit for 10 or 15 minutes and give your full  attention to this exercise.

 1. Holding

 • Let the chocolate rest in your palm. Take a few moments to become aware of its weight.

 • Then, become aware of its temperature – any warmth or coolness it may have.

 2. Looking

 • Give the chocolate your full attention, really looking.

 • Become aware of the pattern of colour and shape that the chocolate makes as it rests on your palm.

 3. Touching

 • Aware of the sense of movement in your muscles as you do this, pick up the chocolate between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand.

• Explore the outside texture of the chocolate as you roll it very gently between your thumb and forefinger.

 • Squeeze it ever so slightly and notice that this might give you a sense of its interior texture.

 • Notice that you can feel this difference just with your thumb and forefi nger – the interior texture and the exterior texture.

 4. Seeing

 • Lift the chocolate to a place where you can really focus on it and begin to examine it in much more detail.

 • See its highlights and shadows and how these change as it moves in the light.

 • Notice how facets of it appear and disappear –how it may seem to have ridges and valleys and how these may shift and change.

 5. Smelling

 • Again aware of the sense of movement in your muscles, begin to move the chocolate very slowly towards your mouth.

 • As it passes by your nose you may become aware of its fragrance. With each inhalation, really explore that fragrance.

 • Become aware of any changes that may be taking place now in your mouth or stomach – any salivation, perhaps.

6. Placing

• Bring the chocolate up to your lips. Explore the delicate sensation of touch here.

• Now place it in your mouth and don’t chew.

• Just let it rest on your tongue, noticing any very faint flavour that may be there.

• Feel the contact it makes with the roof of the mouth, perhaps.

• Now move it to between your back teeth and just let it rest there – again without chewing.

• Notice any urges or impulses in the body.

7. Tasting

• Now take a single bite. Just one. Notice any flavour.

• Then take another bite. Notice any change in flavour.

• Then another bite, and another.

8. Chewing

• Now slowly, very slowly, chew.

• Be aware of sound, of texture, of flavour and of change.

• Keep chewing in this way, very slowly, until there is almost nothing left to chew.

9. Swallowing

• When there is almost nothing left to chew, swallow. See if you can be aware of the intention to swallow as it first arises.

10. Finishing

• As best you can, follow what is left of the chocolate as it moves down towards your stomach and you lose sight of it altogether.

 

Now, reflect on these questions:

• How does your body feel now as you’ve completed that exercise?

 • What did you notice that you might not have been aware of before?

✓ How do you feel having done that exercise?

✓ What effect will this process have on your experience of eating chocolates?

✓ What did you notice and find out?


Now, that you have had a taste of mindfulness we can venture into more fun stuff. And, I am not joking. Mindfulness is fun, if you choose to be that way. You accessing a deeper part of you self, which you have not realized was there all the while. The nest meditation is called Breath awareness meditation.

Breath Awareness Meditation

If you choose to sit up, you can use a chair, a meditation cushion, or

a meditation bench. If using a chair, find one that allows you to sit

comfortably with a more or less straight spine. This posture helps us

pay attention—having a straight spine increases alertness. You can

use the back of the chair for support if you like, or sit a bit forward,

finding a balanced position in which your spine supports itself.

If using a meditation cushion, place the cushion on a folded

blanket or carpet to create a soft surface and sit cross-legged

on it.

The cushion needs to be tall enough so that your knees can touch

the floor, forming a stable triangle between your two knees on the

ground and your buttocks on the cushion. You can place one foot

on top of the opposite ankle or calf or simply allow both feet to lie

on the floor, one just in front of the other, without actually crossing

them. The idea is to find a posture that feels comfortable and stable

with a relaxed, yet erect spine. If using a meditation bench, place it on a folded

blanket or 
carpet. Begin by kneeling, with your knees, shins, and feet against

the ground. Then place the bench under you so that it supports

your buttocks and most of your weight. You may also want to put a

cushion or folded blanket on top of the bench to give yourself more

height and padding. Here, too, the idea is to find a posture that feels

comfortable and stable with a more or less straight spine.

Regardless of how you choose to sit, you may find it helpful to

imagine that a string is attached to the top of your head, pulling

you gently toward the ceiling or sky, lengthening your spine. Next

gently rock your head forward and back and from side to side to

find a position where it balances naturally. The idea is to arrive at

a relaxed yet dignified and alert posture. You can rest your hands

comfortably on your thighs or knees to add to a sense of stability.

Don’t use your arms to support your torso or to keep from falling

backward, as this creates a lot of tension.

While this is not a physical exercise, it will be useful to try

to remain as still as possible while meditating. If an urge arises to

scratch an itch or adjust your position, experiment with just observing

the urge without acting on it. While you don’t have to be heroic

or stoic about this, exercising some restraint with the urge to move

will enhance your concentration. It will also illustrate an important

principle about how the mind habitually reacts to discomfort—a

principle at the heart of mindfulness practice (more about this

later).

Once you’re sitting in an alert, comfortable position, close

your eyes (obviously you’ll need to read the rest of these instructions

first). If all is going well, you’ll be able to notice that you’re

already breathing. Your assignment for the first 20 minutes of

this meditation will be to bring your attention to the sensations

of your breath. While there are several places in the body where

you might observe the breath, for this first exercise, try bringing

your attention to the rising and falling sensations in your belly that

accompany each inhalation and exhalation. See if you can observe

the breath through its entire cycle—from the beginning of an in-breath, to the

 point where the lungs are relatively full, back down

to the point where they are relatively empty, and on to the beginning

of the next cycle. You won’t be trying to control the breath in

any way—this is a concentration practice, not a breathing exercise.

The breath may be short and shallow or long and deep. It may

be one way one minute, and different the next. There is no need

to regulate or change it. You’re simply using the sensations of the

breath in the belly to practice paying attention to what is happening

right now.

Unless you’ve got a very strong natural talent for this, pretty soon

you’ll notice that your attention wanders, either to other sensations

in the body or to thoughts. You may discover that your mind leaves

the breath entirely for long stretches during which you are thinking

about other things entirely. This is perfectly normal (remember, “If

you have a mind, it’s going to wander”). When you notice that this

has happened, just gently return your attention to the breath. You

might even congratulate yourself on becoming aware. This is sometimes

described as being like puppy training—the puppy wanders

off, you bring it back; the puppy wanders off again, you bring it

back again. We don’t get upset with the puppy—we expect it to be

frisky.

 ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

 

So, before you read any further, I invite you to try this concentration

exercise for 20 minutes. You can use a timer or just open

your eyes and check your clock or watch periodically. Please try this

now and then continue to the next paragraph when the time is up.

  ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

Now that you’ve followed your breath for 20 minutes, take a

few moments to experience your environment. Start with the ocean

of sound that surrounds you. Listen to all of the sounds striking

your ears right now as you might listen to a symphony, or as you

might listen to the birds, crickets, or wind on a summer evening.

Try to listen as a musician might—not labeling the sounds but hearing

them as music. Close your eyes again and do this for a few minutes

before reading on.

  ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

Next notice the sensations of contact between your body and

the chair, cushion, bench, ground, or other surface. Observe the

hundreds of sensations coming from each point of contact—your

feet, your buttocks, anywhere else that your body touches something

fi rm. Notice how these sensations are actually not solid but are

made up of hundreds of small sensations strung together. Explore

these sensations with your eyes closed for a little while.

  ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

Now turn your attention to the sensations of contact with the

ocean of air that surrounds you. Observe the sensations wherever

your skin is exposed—your face, hands, or other body parts. Notice

whether the air feels warm or cold, still or breezy. Notice the sensations

of your breath at the tip of your nose, how it is cool when you

breathe in and warmer when you breathe out. Again closing your

eyes, just feel the air for a few minutes.

  ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

Finally, in a moment, you’ll bring your attention to your visual

field, noticing the colors, shapes, and textures of your environment.

Try to take them in as an artist might— putting aside for a moment

the usual habit of labeling objects. Please look up from the computfor

a few minutes now to do this before reading on.

 

  ------------------------------------- X ------------------------------------------

 




 
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