Mindfulness meditation cannot only improve your outlook on life and problem solving ability, it has also been scientifically shown to benefit physical health, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, and reducing pain. Mastering the practice of mindfulness meditation requires breaking the habit of mindlessness (the mind's default setting). Like breaking any bad habit, mindlessness cannot simply be shrugged away the mind must be retrained with practice. The following three types of meditation are great for those who are new to mindfulness meditation.
1. Sitting Practice - During this type of meditation, the practitioner sits in the lotus position (legs crossed, hands resting on knees, palms up). During sitting meditation, the practitioner focuses on his or her breath, either counting to ten or down from ten with each inhalation and exhalation. The purpose of focusing on the breath is to relieve the mind of any other thoughts, so that the practitioner may simply experience existence without reacting to it.
2. Guided Meditation - This type of mindfulness meditation can be quite useful for novice meditators, as it not only serves as meditation practice, but also instruction. Several guided meditations can be found online or for purchase on CD.
3. Walking Meditation – This type of mindfulness is best performed barefoot. During walking meditation, the practitioner focuses on the act of walking. Sensing each muscle movement, weight shifting, and feeling the ground. After a number of paces, the practitioner turns and repeats a mantra before continuing to walk back in the opposite direction.
As a beginner practicing meditation, self-acceptance and forgiveness is key. Relinquishing expectations of the practice is also important. Try it for a while, and see what it does for you. Even the most seasoned practitioners improve and learn with each meditation session. Should the practitioner's mind wander or hand move to scratch an itch during meditation, the practitioner should simply acknowledge the distraction (without self-criticism), and redirect their focus.
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