Friday, March 18, 2011

Mindfulness Meditation

I'm helping restart the Mindfulness Meditation group at the BIO5 Institute. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning from 7:45 to 8:45 am in Keating Building, Room 309. Please enter anytime between 7:45 and 8:45 am. Sit for as long or as little as you like.

Mindfulness Meditation is a simple practice of awareness. The goal? Remain mentally present.

Google's "Jolly Good Fellow" Chade-Meng Tan is an engineer for the company and led the effort to introduce Mindfulness Meditation there: "I want to create a world where meditation is treated like exercise for the mind." [src]

How to meditate: Sit on a chair or cushion. Aim for a posture of dignity. Put your hands where they are comfortable. Close your eyes, or face a blank wall with your eyes opens.

Follow your breathing. Pay attention to the sensations and cadence of your breathing. When you find your mind wandering to the matters of the day, simply return attention to your breath without judgment (try to avoid being critical). You may wish to count breaths (when you reach ten, start over at one). When you find yourself distracted in thought, counting long forgotten, start over at one. If you find a thought or group of thoughts causing you to lose focus, note that. You may wish to think about what you can do about those thoughts to put your mind at rest.

If concentrating on your breath interferes with your breathing, you may "just sit." Just sitting involves being present and becoming mentally aware of reality. You may begin by thinking, "here I am in BIO5, just sitting..." but try to get away from the thoughts and words, just be. When you forget where you are and begin planning your day or your next vacation, stop and remember where you are. Practice staying mentally present in the moment.

You may wish to just start by sitting for 2 to 5 minutes. The effort of being present should help improve your focus during the day.

Learning more:

  • John Kabat-Zinn. 1994. Wherever You Go. There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.
Local meditation centers
Thanks to Mary Paniscus for organizing the original Mindfulness Meditation group at BIO5!