In theory, meditation is one of the simplest things to do. I mean come on, all you really need is something comfortable to sit on, a timer, and a little peace and quiet. Set the timer, sit your butt down, and pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise when you turn your attention inward. Notice how your mind will try to run with a thought. Not to worry, when it does, simply bring your mind back to paying attention.
Still not convinced how easy meditation can be? Checkout this recent Psych Central post from Therese J. Borchard on mindfulness based stillness meditation. According to Borchard, the power of meditation comes in its ability to create space. Most notably between people and their fears. In her post, Borchard references the new book from authors Dr. Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson entitled “Meditation.” Outlined is a 4 step process to cultivating a mindfulness based stillness meditation practice.
The authors introduce mindfulness-based stillness meditation with four simple steps: preparation, relaxation, mindfulness, and stillness.
- Preparation is the easy part, the practical details of where you will meditate, your posture, deciding what specific kind of meditation you will try, and everything that relates to how you set yourself up to begin the meditation. According to Gawler and Bedson, “Preparation involves establishing comfort and ease. We create a conducive external and internal environment for meditation by preparing the location, our posture and our attitude.”
- Relaxation is the street corner where the wheels on my meditation bus disassemble and roll down the road to a coffee shop. According to the authors we simply take the time needed to learn how to relax our body and mind. “A tight or tense body often accompanies a busy or restless mind,” the authors explain. “We use relaxation techniques to create more spaciousness in the body, which helps in calming the mind and bringing our attention into the present moment.”
- By the time I have made it to mindfulness, I have usually abandoned the discipline altogether, because my mind is so relaxed that it is thinking about chilling out at the pool with a glass of lemonade, not closing my eyes in an air-conditioned office sitting on a pillow. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment. I don’t know why that should be so difficult, but it is. At least for my monkey brain. Probably because staying attentive to the moment requires that you be free of judgment, like Damn it. I’m thinking about the pool and lemonade again. I totally suck at this. Ideally, if we are truly mindful, we are also free of reaction. Like when the doctor comes after your knee with that rubber thing, and you almost kick him in the nose without even trying to move your leg. Yeah, all that would stop if you were absolutely mindful. You are able to let go of the guilt in the past and the worry of the future. You don’t engage in your usual obsessive thinking … theoretically … so you don’t obsess about your not obsessing. You get the frontal lobes where they are supposed to be.
- That takes us to stillness. Let me just quote from them on this one: Gradually, by just paying attention without reacting, we become aware of a stillness. Sounds, sensations, even emotions and thoughts just come and go. Free of judgment. Free of reaction. We notice a background of stillness against which sounds, sensations and thoughts come and go, appear and disappear. We become aware that still and silent presence that is just noticing the movement of sounds, sensations and thoughts. In this stillness, awareness is open and undistracted. Stillness is not a static nothingness; it is alive, alert and non-reactive presence.
Read more from Borchard on meditation and mindfulness here.