Meditation Column: Make sure to put the focus on yourself at times

Let’s meditate. For our purposes, we will define meditation as the practice of focusing our minds and attention on an object, a situation, or any point of focus of our choosing (See mediation at wakingupwithpatrick.com).

For example: count your breaths from 1 to 4 while you observe the thought stream with focused attention on your breaths. When a thought comes to mind, acknowledge the thought and then return your focus to counting your breaths (it may take practice, it may not. You can do it). If a mental movie or fantasy begins, as soon as you realize you have been pulled in, return your attention to counting your breaths. The notion is to practice meditation here and there, throughout your day, which will allow conscious present awareness to come to the forefront of your life. The state of presence can be constant. Meditation leads the way to be present all day. Practice meditations here and there all day until you don’t have to anymore.

You can come up with your own objects of meditation, you can keep it simple, make it fun, or make it complicated if you want to challenge yourself – Enjoy. Here are a couple of examples: listen to the sound of water running, take a moment and bring your attention to the sound, use it as a momentary meditation if you will, then go back to what you were doing. Look at the sun, the clouds, the rain, or the stars.

Bring your attention to what’s going on, bring your attention to what you have chosen to focus on. Observe the thoughts that arise and then return your focus, it is that simple. Be aware you’re not really thinking the thoughts, they are just coming.

Here is a favorite meditation: sitting, lying or standing doesn’t matter, bring your attention to the pull of gravity on the different parts of your body. You may start at your feet, feel the weight of your feet, feel them pressing down on the surface they are pressing upon. Bring your attention up to your legs, your hips…

Feel the weight of your hands and arms, feel the pull of gravity as they are pulled down. Continue to move your attention up your torso, to your shoulders, to your neck, and your head. When thoughts come, observe, and then return to the meditation.

You can gauge your level of progress by the ease or difficulty of your meditations. For instance, the counting meditation for some is extremely difficult or even impossible (in the beginning), yet can be very telling of how much your mind has a hold of you. The counting meditation: count in your head from 1 to 100. If your mind interrupts, return to the number you were on as soon as you realize it. If you forget the number, begin again from one; try to get to 100, then maybe 500, or even 1,000.

There is a multitude of things you can use as the focus of your meditations: the laughter of a child, the feeling of the warmth of the sun, the sensation of holding an object in your hand, the sounds of nature…

As you continue, you’ll find other opportunities that may intrigue you, like focusing on the silence under all of the sounds or even bringing your awareness to the part of you that is doing the meditation. Aware of that part of you that is waking up and separating from the stream of thought.

Remember to observe with awareness of any judgments you make about yourself or the thoughts you observe. As your studies deepen, you can meditate on the very thoughts that rise during your observations. Your point of observation is non-judgmental, filled with peace, love and joy. Observing yourself as innocent and unblemished by the conditioning of your mind. It’s a new day, your day. ••

For more on this topic and meditation practices, visit wakingupwithpatrick.com

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