Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment.

Read more on meditation here.

Find recommended reading on meditation here.

For most of us, when it comes to emotions, our thinking is often unclear. Most of us enjoy positive emotions, often looking to things outside rather than inside of us to produce them more frequently and intensely. Most of us dislike negative emotions, denying or repressing them so quickly we make little time to truly understand how they were produced, what we can learn from them, and how to encourage different responses, ones of our own choosing. Because of the volatile nature of emotions, at one time or another and sometimes habitually, many of us repress emotions in an effort to avoid conflict and maintain control. Unsure of where they come from or how they were produced we simply react to our emotions, thinking that they are natural, thus inevitable, or that something outside us produces them, thus we are not responsible for them. Even though our emotions can be highly subjective and individual we think of them as universally justified and even though they often change quickly we think of our habitual reactions to them as unchangeable.

In reality, we’re responsible for our emotions. They’re our reactions. When we find that we tend to react to certain things in predictable ways we may become more interested in learning more about our emotions. When we find that we can choose our reactions we may become more interested in developing our emotions.

Awareness is the first step to developing your emotions. Becoming more conscious of our emotions helps us to understand them better, to be less controlled by them, to choose our responses to them, and even to work with them to reduce, intensify, or even change them. In time, you may even find you respond to other people’s emotions differently.

Try this meditation.

Simply observe your emotions – and everything that surrounds them.

If you find it challenging to focus on a specific emotion, try bringing to mind an event that evokes it for you.

Don’t judge or attempt to change your emotions – or yourself.

What words would you use to describe an emotion?

Are your emotional reactions linked to specific events in your life or ideas you hold?

Identify the physical sensations in your body that accompany an emotion for you.

Over time, does an emotion stay the same or change in intensity or quality for you?

Do you stay with or return to one emotion more frequently than others?

Do your emotions follow any predictable patterns?

Let your emotions flow, allowing them to persist, change or fade without intervention.

Observe your emotions as if they are only one part of you. While you’re feeling an emotion, it may help to simply state “I am feeling …” which can help increase your awareness of both your active role in their existence and the transitory nature of your emotions.

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Our bodies, the vessels that carry us through life, are miracles of engineering to be marveled at and provide us gateways to both our minds and our emotions. For much of our daily lives we are unconscious of our bodies. When we do become aware of our bodies, our awareness is usually highly selective, often focused only in the presence of heightened pleasure or pain, either physical or psychological. Body images, both self-imposed and inherited, often lead us to judge, either inflating or repressing our direct experiences of our bodies. Developing greater body awareness helps reduce these tendencies and increase our understanding of and appreciation for our bodies as a single harmonious system. Tune in to the miracle that is your body.

Try this meditation.

1               Observe the way you sit. What is your experience of your general posture? How are your spine, torso, neck, head, arms and legs positioned? How long can you sustain this before you feel the urge to change positions? What positions are you most comfortable holding for long periods of time? What positions are you uncomfortable holding?

2               Observe the way you stand. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? How is your body balanced? Do you find yourself continually making small adjustments to maintain balance? How long do you feel comfortable maintaining this posture before wanting to change it? How often do you want to change it?

3               Observe the way you walk. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? What is the sequence of motions your body routinely makes? How do you maintain balance through this range of motions? What rhythms do you naturally tend towards? How do these things change with increased speed or extended time? Apply this type of observation to any repetitive type of motion you tend to make, such as exercise, dance, or yoga.

4               Observe the way you respond with your body to external stimuli. What do you respond to with increased calm? What do you respond to with increased alertness? What do you respond to with increased tension? How many of these responses are you typically consciously aware of? Are any of your responses surprising to you?

Spend a little time in isolation observing your body with minimal outside distractions. Later, extend your practice to increasing body awareness with increased external stimuli. Try to make this kind of observation a habit. With practice, you’ll find that your awareness of your body will increase, with little or no need for mental direction, growing more frequent, durable, and more deeply felt.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

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We assume that we know our own minds, when in reality they’re much more complex and mysterious than we think. Consciousness is one of the great riddles of the universe for which there are surprisingly few answers, no comprehensive system, and not even a single definition. Yet we all use our minds everyday. We’re so used to the continual train of thoughts in our minds, some of whose paths are individually chosen and some conventionally patterned, that they go unrecognized for what they are or even unnoticed. Through meditation the constraints that we have learned to place on our minds can be loosened selectively. The boundaries between our conscious and subconscious minds can become more permeable and we can experience more than the surface of our selves. We can learn to experience the full potential of our minds.

Try this meditation.

1         Simply observe your thoughts.

Don’t try to control (focus, direct, or change) your thoughts.

Don’t fixate on or avoid certain thoughts.

Don’t judge or criticize your thoughts.

Don’t judge or criticize yourself for having thoughts.

Simply observe your thoughts.

After meditation review your process. Were your thoughts familiar or surprising to you? Did your mind flow in conventional patterns (comparison, contrast, chain of events) or not? Did you favor certain subjects over others? Was the tendency to think certain thoughts reinforced by recent or reoccurring events? If you experienced memories of past events were they recent or long past? How does this meditation on thoughts compare to previous ones? How does increasing or decreasing the time you spend meditating change your experience? What did you learn about your mind?

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

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The world is a complex and fast-moving place and we make it more complex and faster every day. The efficient coping mechanisms we have developed to filter and select information to help us to survive and thrive amid an enormous amount of stimulation often get in the way of fully experiencing our environment. Spend some time becoming more aware of the miracles that surrounds you.

Try this meditation.

1               Sit, stand, or move slowly. Do so in a way that you can be undistracted so that you can direct your full attention to your environment.

2               Shift your attention to your vision. Look around you – side-to-side, behind and before you, up and down.

3               Shift your attention to your hearing. Listen to both quiet and loud and near and far sounds.

4               Shift your attention to your sense of smell. Fully experience both pleasant and unpleasant smells.

5               Shift your attention to your sense of touch. Explore the temperature, the air, the ground, the things around you, etc.

6               Become aware of more than one sensation at a time, working to simultaneously integrate them all without prioritizing one over the other.

Simply observe your experiences of your environment. Don’t compare, contrast, evaluate or judge your experiences. Don’t let identifying the things you perceive with labels limit your impressions. If thoughts come to mind, note them and gently let them go. Return your consciousness to your direct experience.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

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You can find time for meditation without changing your schedule. Simply perform your daily activities with your full attention. While you’re doing them, do and think nothing else. (This is much easier said than done. It takes practice!) This is meditation in action!

How much time can you find for this kind of meditation?

Find out by listing the time you spend doing the following activities daily.

____ showering

____ exercising

____ eating alone

____ walking to a place or activity

____ traveling to and from work

____ total

____ Multiply this by 5 to find the number of minutes weekly.

This figure is with weekends off. More time can be found on weekends.

____ Multiply this figure by 50 to find the number of minutes annually.

This figure is with vacations off. More time can be found on vacations.

In addition, there are some times that are easier than others to find moments for meditation.

 

Add these to your totals to find out how much of a difference they can make.

____ Waking up

____ Going to sleep

____ Breaks

____ Waiting (for someone or something) This last one is extraordinary!

What other times can you think to find for meditation?

Even if you choose to meditate in less than half of these cases – that’s a lot of time!

Think of these types of meditation not as a substitute for longer more formal types of meditation but as ways to extend and augment them.

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The question “How long should I meditate?” is a question I urge you only to resolve for a given moment and never finally. The question will serve you much better, better than any single answer, if you consider it and reconsider it, over time.

Most questions that start with the word should limit rather than open options, unnecessarily. In point of fact, this question can be misleading, suggesting that there is an ideal duration for meditation, when if fact developing a sensitivity to what different durations contribute to a continuing practice of meditation is much more useful.

Much has been made of longer forms of meditation while only a little has been made of their shorter counterparts. Longer isn’t better than shorter. They’re just different. Both have a role to play in your life. What that role is, is not something to be prescribed by another, rather it is for you to discover.

The question, “How are longer and shorter forms of meditation different?” is a much more useful starting point.

Shorter forms of meditation are more easily practiced regularly and frequently. Practicing this way consistently can more quickly and deeply establish new patterns of attention and awareness. Many people find the downside of shorter meditation intervals is that it may take more time for the mind to settle down and achieve significant depth in an experience. Keep at it. All you need is practice. When the mind knows that it has only a certain amount of time to accomplish something avoidance, procrastination and distraction are often reduced. You can train your mind to change states much more quickly than you might have expected.

Sometimes necessary for more complex forms of meditation, longer intervals of meditation allow for more repetition of a single practice or comparison between different practices in a single session, enabling more direct comparison and contrast as well as immediate refinement with each new cycle. This may lead to a greater depth of experience. It can also lead to different states of awareness, neither better nor worse, but certainly different. I encourage you to experience many states of awareness so that you can make future choices knowledgeably.

You may find that meditating for certain durations of time comes easier for you than others. This is a useful observation. Follow it with another. Ask yourself, “Why?” If it’s working, go with it. At the same time, I’d encourage you to experiment with other durations that may not come as easily. If you do, you’ll make many other useful observations. And, with practice, you’ll develop a more versatile skill set that will offer you many more opportunities to choose from.

This is key. After you finish meditating, follow up with yourself and make some observations about your experiences. Keeping a journal of your experience often facilitates greater clarity about past experiences and future decisions.

Don’t take my word for it … or anyone else’s – and I mean anyone. Confirm observations made by others with your own.

How does your experience of meditation change with changes in its duration? As you become more fully aware of the differences time brings to meditation, you can choose to meditate for an interval that seems right for the moment. After all, it’s your moment.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

On average, we each think 60,000 thoughts a day.

Here’s the math.

One Day                        60,000 Thoughts

One Week                      420,000 Thoughts

One Month                     1,680,000 Thoughts

One Year                       21,840,000 Thoughts

One Decade                   218,400,000 Thoughts

One Life                         1,638,000,000 Thoughts

How many thoughts are significant thoughts or thoughts that led to significant thoughts?

Do you think it would help you to be more aware of your thoughts?

Do you think it would help you to think fewer thoughts?

Do you think it would help you to think in more focused ways?

If so, try meditating.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

Our bodies, the vessels that carry us through life, are miracles of engineering to be marveled at and provide us gateways to both our minds and our emotions. For much of our daily lives we are unconscious of our bodies. When we do become aware of our bodies, our awareness is usually highly selective, often focused only in the presence of heightened pleasure or pain, either physical or psychological. Body images, both self-imposed and inherited, often lead us to judge, either inflating or repressing our direct experiences of our bodies. Developing greater body awareness helps reduce these tendencies and increase our understanding of and appreciation for our bodies as a single harmonious system. Tune in to the miracle that is your body.

1               Observe the way you sit. What is your experience of your general posture? How are your spine, torso, neck, head, arms and legs positioned? How long can you sustain this before you feel the urge to change positions? What positions are you most comfortable holding for long periods of time? What positions are you uncomfortable holding?

2               Observe the way you stand. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? How is your body balanced? Do you find yourself continually making small adjustments to maintain balance? How long do you feel comfortable maintaining this posture before wanting to change it? How often do you want to change it?

3               Observe the way you walk. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? What is the sequence of motions your body routinely makes? How do you maintain balance through this range of motions? What rhythms do you naturally tend towards? How do these things change with increased speed or extended time? Apply this type of observation to any repetitive type of motion you tend to make, such as exercise, dance, or yoga.

4               Observe the way you respond with your body to external stimuli. What do you respond to with increased calm? What do you respond to with increased alertness? What do you respond to with increased tension? How many of these responses are you typically consciously aware of? Are any of your responses surprising to you?

Spend a little time in isolation observing your body with minimal outside distractions. Later, extend your practice to increasing body awareness with increased external stimuli. Try to make this kind of observation a habit. With practice, you’ll find that your awareness of your body will increase, with little or no need for mental direction, growing more frequent, durable, and more deeply felt.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

There are many clinically proven physical benefits of practicing meditation.

Meditation …

1            Decreases respiratory rates.

2            Slows heart rates while increasing blood flow.

3            Decreases blood pressure.

4            Decreases muscle tension and headaches.

5            Decreases lactate concentrations, which are linked to anxiety.

6            Increases seratonin

a counteragent to obesity, insomnia, and depression.

7            Boosts the immune system.

8            Reduces the effects of chronic diseases …

… allergies, arthritis, asthma etc.

9            Speeds the healing of wounds.

10          Increases the activity of cancer killing cells.

It’s mind over matter. What’s on your mind matters.

Read more on meditation here.


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