1. Have the mindfulness meditation session not just be about learning meditation and practicing it. Avoid making meditation a routine: brief intro, meditation, discussion, leave. This means engaging people on different levels other than their mere interest in meditation. Ask them questions, get to know them. They will come again more often, and learn more, if they had a good time conversing and hanging out!
2. Friends mentioned they liked several approaches to meditation:
relaxed attention, letting go of control, acceptance of present moment
Analogies: imagine sitting in the middle of a waterfall, but realize you are not the waterfall, let everything happen as it may; imagine you are a cloud, let thoughts/judgments, reactions go through the cloud
3. Ideas for the future include:
breaking down meditation
concentrate on upper lip
witness the mind's thoughts while emphasizing non-judgment
have them come back into their bodies - deep breaths+relaxing - and then paying attention to the state of their mind
by letting go of thoughts regarding past and future, and then coming back into the body they experience for themselves the positive mindset of coming back into the present moment
themed activities: savoring with a raisin, coming into the body with stretching, walking sensations, deep breathing, etc
4. Changing the wording. Meditation is an Eastern word, with Eastern connotations. I worry that it will always be cloaked in mystique, and never ordinary. Perhaps it would be best for Westerners to approach awareness practice with familiar words (like awareness practice in lieu of meditation). Possibilities include: insight, calm, mindfulness.
5. Conclusion: don't make it just SITTING MEDITATION. Figure out how to more effectively convey the concepts of meditation in a familiar practical way without losing integrity of original meaning. Engage people on a personal level.
There are many definitions regarding mindfulness. I've always taught mindfulness as paying-attention-to-the-present-moment. But there is more to mindfulness than being present, for what does it mean to be present? Of course it means that our attention is rooted in the present moment, with the actual sensations of being alive, the sounds, the vibrations, the itches, the breathing, the random thoughts - everything that is actually going on. But there is also a quality of openness, of acceptance, of curiosity. And mindfulness it isn't just relaxation and day dreaming! There is also focus and concentration and groundedness.
Some people try too hard to pay attention to the present and become angry. They want something else. The mindfulness I am talking about is cultivating the attitude of this-is-good-enough. While things may not be perfect, they are pretty good and it is only our expectation and desire for more than creates a negative perception of the present moment. But through mindfulness, we can become aware of our over-reaching expectations and begin to let go of them. Then we are more easily a of accepting imperfection. In this way we become much more free to act in the present moment in ways that are right and natural.
Wisdom Commons defines mindfulness as:
Mindfulness is focused awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness lets us be fully conscious of a simple sensation like the warmth of sunlight or of the complex interplay between our thoughts and feelings.
By tuning in to mental processes, we are able to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don't necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being subject to them.
Mindfulness lets us absorb the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental chatter. The self-knowledge that comes from mindfulness lets us be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.
I like this definition! This is what the hell mindfulness is. Now go ahead and practice it yourself!
For the past couple of years I have held a weekly meditation session at my apartment. Nothing fancy - just introducing people to mindfulness meditation, actually practicing it for 20-30 mins, and then discussing it. It's been a great learning experience; by teaching I've learned more about it (and myself) than I would have otherwise. Thank you to everyone who has participated. Good luck in whatever comes your way. May the Force be with you!
The 2013 year is well underway; nevertheless here are my goals! These vows come from my heart and are meant to be actualized - to be applied and practiced. Yes, I will be challenged by these resolutions. But if you aren't growing, you're stagnating, and I like growing.
Without further ado:
1. I vow to live each moment fully. 2. I vow to face fear and suffering. 3. I vow to love others. 4. I vow to notice the good. 5. I vow to learn, lead, contribute, and create.
*vow = I promise to try to....
I will exert effort attempting to...
I will do my best to....