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Four Tips For Effective Meditation

When I started meditation with my Muse, I really didn’t know what to expect. I meditated before without the Muse, but I didn’t know what was helpful during meditation. It’s taken several sessions to figure out what it means to let my thoughts go and focus on my breath, and it has been very much worth it. Here are four techniques and realizations that have gotten me much further along the path to meditation.

Develop open curiosity

First, meditation allows you to develop a sense of wonder and open curiosity about life again. If you ever remember having this sensation, it is when you look at something so interesting, you take in all of it at once and marvel at its beauty. You’re not caught up in any particular detail to get hung up. Instead, you engage and withdraw as you notice it at different levels and from many different angles. Meditation is the same and the mind it helps develop is the same. You just notice life and allow it to be what it is without getting hung up in any of it.

Expand focus and awareness

Second, apply open curiosity to how you meditate, which is staying mentally engaged without attaching to any particular task. Typically, meditation asks you to start by focusing on your breath. There may be other programs that start you off on something else, but essentially, you try to notice how you’re breathing without trying to change it in any way. However, if you focus on it too strongly, you’ll tune out other things happening with your body and maybe start wrapping yourself up in thoughts about your breath. Instead, let your mind expand into noticing your posture, noticing your heartbeat, noticing if there are any sounds you can hear or what silence sounds like. Let your attention get bigger and include more things that are happening right here and now.

“Yes, and…” mental training

Third, you need to use the “Yes, and…” improvisation approach to train yourself to redirect toward the thing you focus on. Your mind will bring up all kinds of things that may require your attention, or that you think you need to resolve. However, once you realize you’re thinking about what to get at the grocery store or remind yourself to call your friend, you can say to yourself, “yes, and how does my breathing feel?,” so you can redirect your attention back to your breath. You want there to be flow of mind but a flow not going to any particular destination. Anytime you catch yourself attaching to any thought that leads you astray from that open curiosity, practice saying mentally to yourself, “yes, and how does my heartbeat feel?” or “yes, and how is my posture?” or of course, “yes, and how does my breathing feel?” This “Yes, and…” technique will keep you from falling to self-critical fallout that only inhibits your open curiosity.

Notice resistance to presence

Fourth, learn how you resist presence. Presence is literally paying attention to only what is right her and right now: sounds, smells or other sensations. I noticed I treated the blackness of my closed eyes as a signal to go into my head. In my mind, it was something to ignore and usually signaled a time to start dreaming. Once I realized I needed to actually pay attention to the blackness in my closed eyes, I established a much stronger sense of presence, realizing that ignoring the blackness of closed eyes was contributing to losing focus.

I am continuing my posts with whatever revelations I have further to share as I meditate, so stay tuned each Sunday for more!

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