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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.
Publisher: Rodale Books
Have you ever heard of Mindfulness? You probably have. After all, blogs, the media, and people do not stop talking about it, don’t they? So we chose a super popular title on the subject to bring to 12 Minutes. Mindfulness, the book by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, is a guide on the subject that teaches you how to focus better and helps you develop your attention span. The proposal is to reveal a set of simple but powerful practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to live with less stress, fear, and anxiety. These meditation exercises have been developed so that you get to know yourself better, learn about your own body and live in a positively. Learn to deal with your thoughts and separate time during your day for these exercises. If you feel depressed, unhappy or stressed, using the teachings of this microbook can help you. Check them out!
Many people wonder what Mindfulness is. The answer is simple. Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that consists in focusing all your attention in your breath as the air enters and leaves your body. It is a state of mindfulness. However, getting to this state is challenging. So let's explain step by step how to get there.
The first step to mindfulness is learning to direct your focus to where you choose. This can be a very difficult exercise because the mind tends to wander, regardless of your preferences. The first technique is focused on your breathing, which is a great tool to help you improve your focus skills. This exercise will ease your attention training, making you watch your thoughts while thinking about your breathing, guiding your thoughts as they begin to disperse. To begin:
Sit or lie down in a relaxed position.
Close your eyes and focus on the places your body is touching the chair.
Do this for a few minutes until you are aware of your body and how it feels.
Now try to relax completely.
While doing this, think about how you feel by becoming aware of any sensation that catches your attention.
You may feel many things or notice a complete lack of sensation. Whether you feel it or not, that's okay. Your goal is simply to be attentive. As you continue meditation, shift your focus to your chest and stomach, where you will notice the sensations caused by your breathing. Allow yourself to record the rise and fall of your body as you breathe in and out, and the relief it brings to your lungs.
As best you can, keep your focus on your breathing. Keep your thoughts focused on each breath and watch how you feel. Your brain can change thoughts, make plans or think about other things; This is your autopilot. It's okay when that happens, so do not judge yourself and do not be upset. Notice that your thoughts have strayed and guide yourself back to your breathing.
Commit yourself to doing this meditation for eight minutes, twice a day, wherever you can. Separating this time to practice your focus on breathing will helps you begin to understand better how your thoughts work. Thoughts that get out of control are the biggest cause of anxiety and stress today. As you practice bringing your thoughts to your breath, you are teaching yourself how to deal with unruly thoughts. With your thoughts under control, you can keep the feelings of anxiety and stress away.
To improve your body awareness and your sensations, you can practice a Body Scan meditation. You will begin to focus your awareness on specific areas of your body, noticing any sensation without judging or controlling them, renewing them with your breathing. The goal is to help you better understand and accept the feelings and physical reactions of your body by learning to breathe.
Choose a bed, mattress or a thick rug to lie on. Start as in the first technique. You do not have to try to feel something specific, allow yourself to recognize and observe your current emotions. Avoid putting any expectations about yourself. That is anexercise for acceptance. Remember that it is okay if your mind is scattered. Just watch this and gently guide your thoughts back to the exercise.
Keep your attention on your breath. To begin:
Focus on your abdomen, paying attention to how it expands and contracts.
When you're ready, shift your focus to your feet.
Notice any sensation or lack of it.
Now imagine your breath entering your feet, filling them with air.
As you exhale, imagine the air coming out of your feet, leaving them empty.
Do this a few times, moving your breath to your feet and watching as they empty themselves out as you exhale. Focus here for a moment, before you go to the next step. If your thoughts are scattered, keep your attention on the breath to center your mind and then bring your attention back.
Breathe while you are still focused and allow any consciousness to dissolve upon expiration. Continue meditation by moving your focus to every part of your body - through your legs, chest, arms, and head. Spend some time in each area imagining your breathing just as you did with your feet. The goal is to examine your entire body, watching your sensations.
Remember that there is no right or wrong here. Just take time to practice these techniques. Practicing this "Body Scan" meditation twice a day, wherever possible, will allow you to feel refreshed and satisfied over time. It will also give you a tool to deal with stress. Keep your attention on your body and fill it with air. It will calm you physically and mentally.
Mindfulness meditation involves a series of simple stretches that leave your mind attached to your body. You need to stretch long enough for your effort to be felt by your body, but not to the point of feeling discomfort or difficulty. If you have any physical problems, consult your physician before performing this meditation. To begin:
Stay upright but relaxed, with your arms at your side, barefoot or in socks.
Breathe and slowly raise both arms to the side, parallel to the floor.
In your next inhalation, raise your arms up high, until they are above your head.
Stretch up, keeping your feet firmly on the ground, and no tension in your body.
Then slowly begin to lower your arms as you exhale, following the same pattern as before.
Keep your attention on the sensations caused by stretches of the body. Feel any change; observe and accept its limits. Then slowly raise an arm, as if you were to pick a fruit from a tree out of reach. Notice how you feel and whether your breathing changes. Observe the feelings throughout your body and then return to the relaxed position. Repeat this exercise with your other arm.
Now place your hands on your hips and bend your head and shoulders slightly to one side while your hip moves in the opposite position. This will form a curve in your body, from your feet to your head. Do not bend too much - just enough to feel the change in your body and how it affects your breathing. Repeat on the other side.
Finally, practice these shoulders movement:
Lift your shoulders towards your ears.
Stir them back so that your shoulders move toward each other.
Then let them fall fully, before pulling them close to the ears again.
Do this first in one direction and then the other. Continue to be aware of the sensations this causes. Finish this exercise by standing erect, noticing any changes you feel in your body.
The goal here is to become fully aware of your body, noticing areas that may be strained or affected by daily stress. Performing the stretches twice a day, in addition to the first two meditations, will help you realign yourself and feel relaxed, renewed, and more self-conscious.
The fourth exercise involves an emphasis on your thoughts with a meditation called "Thoughts and Sounds." That will help you better understand the fleeting nature of your thoughts. It will also allow you to accept them, letting them disappear before negatively impacting your body and emotions.
Start with an eight-minute meditation. Focus on what you can hear. Open your mind to the sounds around you and notice how you label and judge them. Observe whether or not you want to listen to them, and how you react. If your thoughts drift away, acknowledge them and bring them back so that you can listen again. Study the sounds you hear in detail as if you've never heard them before. Note the subtleties, sounds within sounds, patterns, and so on.
Now, let the sounds disappear and focus entirely on your thoughts, studying them in detail; they may be lost or not, or even be worrying thoughts about the future. They can be happy, sad or neutral. No matter what, you do not have to control them, just watch them. You may notice that your thoughts are similar to the sounds you were hearing before: innumerable, sometimes blending and constantly moving in your consciousness.
Now you can practice accepting them for what they are and let them pass. Compare your thoughts to traveling clouds. One moment they are here, the next they are gone. Your thoughts move in a similar way, as well as any emotion attached to them. If your thoughts become overwhelming, use your breathing to focus and let them disappear.
Learning that the thoughts and feelings are temporary states that will pass helps you to accept them without judgments. You can allow them to come and go, without negatively impacting your life. By practicing meditation called "Sounds and Thoughts," you will be able to accept your thoughts and feelings calmly.
The fifth exercise is the meditation "exploring the difficulty". Here, you will bring some difficult question to mind and practice your awareness, accepting the reactions that difficulties cause, without worrying, plan or solve the problem. It can be a very challenging experience, but you will learn a valuable lesson.
Begin meditating with your breath and body, and follow with "sounds and thoughts" meditation. You can then begin meditating by "exploring the difficulty." If you notice that your thoughts tend to walk toward something difficult in your life, you can let them hang around instead of guiding them away. If nothing difficult comes to your mind, intentionally provoke that thought. Let the thought linger in your mind. Now, focus on your body and examine your sensations. You may feel tension, pain or distress. These are physical reactions to difficult thoughts and feelings.
When you identify the feelings caused by your thoughts, focus on the area where you are strongest. Imagine, breathing and exhaling in the affected area, as in the "Body Scan" meditation. Do not try to change what you're feeling, just watch and explore until you can see clearly.
Notice how these feelings are intense when you focus on them and how they change every moment. Let the sensations remain, without intentionally affecting them. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel what you are feeling and think what you are thinking, or you are open to the thoughts, or you will feel an aversion to them. Tell yourself it's okay not to want these feelings. But stay with them during exercise. Finish the exercise by focusing on your breathing again until all else disappears.
This exercise is very challenging and can often be unpleasant. However, you will notice that as you allow yourself to feel what you are feeling without attempting to plot, plan, change or push away anything, feelings will disappear. And if you need a break from the physical effects of your thoughts, remember to breathe. Learning to deal with your feelings and even understanding them and accepting them gives you power over them. That will prevent them from overcharging you and is the key to a peaceful existence of contentment with yourself.
The sixth technique is a ten-minute "friendly" meditation. You can prepare for it with any of the other meditation techniques. They all form the foundation upon which you are building your mindfulness so that you can practice that last skill. Through this meditation, you will not only accept who you are but will also offer kindness and love to yourself, regardless of how you feel or think.
When you are ready to start, some sentences deserve attention:
"May I be free from suffering."
"May I be as happy and healthy as possible."
"May I have a proclivity to be."
Keep every sentence in your thoughts and listen to any response from your mind or body without judgments. The idea is to bring a feeling not only of acceptance but also of friendship about yourself. Try to love yourself, as a dear person loves you.
Then bring a loved one into your mind and offer them the same sentences you have offered for yourself. Wish them happiness, health, and goodness. Again, listen to your answers without judgment. Breathe and think, until you are ready to move on. The next person you should choose will be a stranger and, following this, someone who causes you problems. Think of these people and repeat the same sentences. Finish this exercise by repeating the sentences for everyone. Wish all of you health and happiness.
This meditation is not necessarily easy. Offering love and kindness to loved ones is not a challenge, but offering it to a stranger and an enemy can be difficult. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is to offer yourself. Much of your suffering is caused by self-judgment and punishment for your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. If you can offer yourself love and kindness, you can face any difficulty and always be able to have inner peace and happiness.
Go back and practice any exercise you find most challenging and also enjoy the ones you like best. The more you practice, the more attentive you will become. The way to live with mindfulness is to continue to use these meditation techniques. Perfection is not the goal here. You are trying to familiarize yourself with your mind, so you learn to guide your thoughts and feelings.
Finally, the most important thing is to learn to accept yourself and be kind to yourself. You must accept your feelings and thoughts, regardless of anything. Inner peace and happiness will be your reward.
12min tip: Are you interested in lifehacks? Today's tip will bring you books of an avid practitioner of meditation and ultra Lifehacker. Check out our "Tools of Titans" and "4 hours for the body" micro books based on the books of Tim Ferriss and tell us what you think.
Mark Williams is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University. He was one of the creators of cognitive therapy based on mindfulness and is one of the authors of The Mindful Way Through Depression. He is Professor of Clinical Psychology at Univ. of Oxford and Director of the Mindfulness Center of Oxford. He served on the Research Council of... (Read more)
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