I have been practicing mindfulness meditation for past many years. Benefits are fantastic; however, journey is tough if not impossible. I remember when I started learning meditation my mind used to get distracted easily or I used to get bored. Following are some learnings from my past experience which I think could help many of beginners to refine their meditation practice.
Discipline is the key: you need to make meditation practice a normal routine. It should be a part of daily life as eating, bathing etc. you must not miss it any single day. If time is a constraint, do it for 5 minutes or even 3 minutes of mindfulness is good enough, however remember no gap in practice. I try doing it twice a day, once early morning and once before going to bed. My morning meditation is much longer compared to evening one.
Make it simple:
There are various meditation practices like breath meditation, mindfulness of sound, mindfulness of body sensations, feelings, though labelling etc. But, to start with keep it simple, I strongly recommend just do breathe meditation for couple of years. Perfect it and then move on to other methods.
Even for breath meditation, there are several ways to feel your breath like in belly or in nostril or labelling it in or out. Pick up any one method and keep doing it. Else mind will not let you rest, when you will try one method it will create thoughts to force you to try another one and then another one. pick up one method as soon as possible during your beginner’s program. For me, feeling breath sensation near nostril has worked very well. I just follow it day in day out.
Meditation is seeing clearly without any mental commentary: Thoughts will keep coming to mind during meditation practice, and it is perfectly ok. We don’t need to control them, we need to become an observer of our thoughts. We need to accept them, and not control them. Slowly they will vanish. This will be stage set for being aware of what’s unfolding without a narrative. This is mindfulness.
Get basics of mindfulness clear: you may have opted for mindfulness meditation with a purpose in mind like stress reduction or sleep improvement or as part of counseling process under CBT or MBSR etc. I feel mindfulness is much more than such benefits. Read basics of what is mindfulness, and how it became part of eastern philosophy. It’s not necessary to be become a pandit in this area. But basic understanding will help. The whole concept of pure consciousness or concept of no self (Buddhist Anatta) are interesting and bring a deep insight into meditation practice.
Don’t limit mindfulness to meditation: mindfulness is pure awareness without any narrative or bias or judgement. It could be tried (must be!) in normal daily life, while eating, walking, sitting. Try training you mind getting that moment of mindfulness in various instances of daily life. It brings lot of refinement in sitting meditation. Another instance when mindfulness could be refined is when you are getting negative thoughts, just become observant of your thoughts rather than getting lost into them.
Introspection of key questions: spend some time daily on various important questions like who are you? Your purpose in life? What made you what you are etc.? just contemplate on these questions, no need to try hard on finding answers- that’s not the purpose here