The first part of this blog can be read here
I decided to spilt this blog into two parts because I wanted to introduce the notion or the 'what' of mindfulness with out getting too much into the 'how.' Mindfulness is immediately available to everyone instantly and can also be a life long practise. Either way, there's really no rush. It is possible to practise mindfulness with literally anything, which might be overwhelming at first, so one of the best ways to begin a mindfulness practise is to keep it simple. So here's a simple meditation you may like to try at any time:
Notice your position. Are you standing? Sitting? Lying down? Find a position which is conducive to rest.
Pay attention to the parts of your body that make contact with the floor. Whether that's directly or through whatever is supporting your position. Allow yourself to be heavy. Delegate the responsibility of holding your body to the floor and any items of soft furnishings supporting your position. (If you experience anxiety or other forms of intense stress this might be challenging, that's ok).
You may quickly realise whether this position is actually working for you, so follow your body into ease as it presents itself, otherwise adjust your position, explore ways of supporting your body. Fidget, make whatever minor adjustments you need; maybe wriggle your shoulders, roll your head from side to side...
Is there a single part of you body which feels good right now? Any pleasant sensation. Perhaps the temperature feels good or there is a relaxed sensation. Notice where this sensation (or sensations) are in your body. Does the sensation move? Does it change as you pay attention here? Is it easy to find or are you trying very hard? Is the sensation obvious or very subtle? Is there a more subtle sensation present here?
Is there a single part of your body which doesn't feel so good right now? Sometimes it is easier to notice the parts of the body which do not feel so good. Sometimes it's difficult to pay attention to painful feelings, so be kind and remember there is no need to try do to this. If this is very difficult or you are feeling overwhelmed by difficult sensations then return to the practise of noticing the sensations of comfort and ease in your body. Either way, what sensations do you notice? It may help to describe any sensations to yourself, it may be helpful to listen patiently to whatever reveals itself.
If you feel drawn away into you thoughts and judgements, that's ok. Whenever you notice your attention has drifted, give yourself some credit for noticing and bring your attention back to this practise.
Now is there a part of your body which doesn't feel like anything, really? An absence of sensation. Or something which is difficult to put into words. What are the sensations like here? Is there such a thing as no sensation?
Finally, is it possible to be aware of these three places at the same time? Don't worry if this question (or any other part of this meditation) doesn't make sense. Know that what you have experienced in this meditation is enough. You literally cannot do this wrong, your experience is valid. Once more you may choose to compete your meditation by simply being aware of the space around you, how your body exists in that space and become aware of sensations of support from your resting position.
So the above is an opportunity to tune into your own awareness, to pay attention and to experience the answer to the questions provided in the form of sensation from your body. We are often disconnected from our bodies so you might only experience this a short while before being distracted by thoughts, which is perfectly normal. We are not trying to stop thinking; rather we are noticing, as part of the practise, when we are distracted and then returning to paying attention to the sensations of the body. With practise the time between gently focusing attention and being distracted will increase without any effort.
Often this kind of practise elicits a sense of peace an calm, but notice how that is not the aim but rather a helpful side-effect. I have found mindfulness meditations are highly compatible with strong intentions. Whereby setting an intention, for example to be aware of one's breath, allows for fluidity and creativity during meditation. Also it naturally implies a kind of softness which is helpful in approaching a mindful state. This is in contrast to having a set goal such as 'I'm doing this to be calm.' Ever had someone tell you to calm down when you felt agitated? How did that go? So in this way easefulness and open awareness is discovered through directly being, rather than doing.