Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation For Beginners


The two terms- Mindfulness and Meditation- have been in vogue lately. You take up any self-help or spiritual book, these are the most talked about topics and often interchangeably. There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings revolving around these two terms.

In this article, I will try my best to introduce these two terms to the explorer who has just started on the journey to self-improvement or to find oneself.

What is Mindfulness?

If I have to describe it in a single sentence then Mindfulness is the ability to see things as they really are, that is to say, to see with brand new eyes that are clear, piercing, and free from any preconceived notions, which can only happen when you are present in this moment.

In the words of the master Thicht Nhat Hanh himself:

To be mindful is to be truly alive, present, and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car, or take our morning shower.

How can you practice Mindfulness?

The things in life that are most natural and simple are sometimes most profound. Mindfulness is one of them. Believe me when I say you don’t need any formal training or learn techniques to be mindful. I can obviously tell you what others say: Focus on your breath, watch your thoughts come and go but it will all be in vain. Deep inside, all of us already know: How to be aware? How to practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness is just like sleep. As a child, we did not have to learn how to sleep.

The chief difference between mindfulness and sleep is that you are mostly not aware that you are sleeping but in mindfulness, you are totally aware of the things happening within and without.

When you are eating you are aware or mindful that your hands are feeding something in your mouth. When you are brushing your teeth you are aware or mindful that your hands are helping move the brush against your teeth. Feel it. When you are washing dishes you are aware or mindful that you are performing such a task. When you are bathing you feel the water running down your body.

Where can you Practice Mindfulness?

That’s the beauty of it. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. There is no need to sit in a particular posture or an asana. Mindfulness is not something that you practice for 5 minutes keeping your eyes closed and as soon as you open them you go about your business forgetting everything.

What is Meditation?

Let me start by clearing what Meditation is not:

It is not religious. It’s not about relaxation. It is not about pleasure. It is not about achieving something.

Meditation is about pure awareness of reality. It is about knowing that there is nothing to achieve, you just have to realize that everything that you have been seeking is already inside you.

A Simple Guided Meditation

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit, keep your spine erect and close your eyes.
  2. Start breathing normally.
  3. Try to focus on the point where you can feel your breath the most whether it is the tip of your nose, your abdomen, or your chest.
  4. In the beginning, you will not be able to focus on your breath for more than a few seconds. You will be distracted by various thoughts. Don’t repress the thoughts. You can not force your mind to stop thinking. Instead, try to observe the thoughts while breathing naturally.
  5. Now imagine yourself sitting on the side of the road and watching the cars (your thoughts) come and go. You don’t have to stop the cars instead just observe them.
  6. Gradually, with practice, you will notice that the traffic of cars (thoughts) has eased and there are fewer cars (thoughts) passing by. This is the power of mere observation.

Hope you find it useful.

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