Two meditation practices that will change your life

Remember what you did last Monday. Do you remember what you ate? The clothes you wore, the people you met, the things you said?

Does it take a little work to remember? Perhaps it is because we constantly receive so much information and when we want to concentrate on what happens in the present there are so many distractions!

Our attention jumps from side to side, trying to multi-function on various tasks. When we decide to focus on a thing we can stay focused 3 to 10 seconds, before our mind begins to distract ourselves with thoughts, after 10 minutes of performing an activity, there is something that interrupts the flow of our attention and distracts us.

There are two practices in which we want to train our mind, the first is mental presence, through which we have an open attention to all the senses, aware of everything that is happening at the moment, without focusing on one thing in particular, but without leaving unnoticed something that is happening in the present.

The second practice is focused attention, we choose to focus and concentrate on something that is happening or we are doing in the present. We leave everything else in the periphery of our attention and as we concentrate more, we enter the state of flux where we no longer notice anything other than our object of attention. We lose track of time and what surrounds us. When we are so concentrated, joy arises and we enjoy what we are doing. But many times when we concentrate we become tense, so it is important to be aware of our body and mind and learn to relax them.

Both practices require mindfulness which is the ability to pay attention but also to remember to bring our attention back to the object.

The first thing to do is to recognize what it is important for us, and to give our attention to it, we need stop wasting our time by attending to thoughts and fantasies that have no relevance to our goals, and to focus here and now on what is truly important.

As we train more and more our attention, we become more efficient and we are able to make progress in what is important, so it is important to strengthen our attention through constant practice.

I recommend the following articles to continue learning about the training of this wonderful faculty of care:

Transform your mind

How to focus on your goals

***

Share your experience with these practices in the comments section below!

The 5 most important practices

There is nothing more beneficial than the following five practices:

Focused attention
The Four Applications of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind and mental objects)
Four Immeasurable (compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity)
Dream Yoga
The Great Perfection

These practices are a direct path to the realization of our deepest nature and potentials of consciousness. These meditations are essential for refining the attention, growing recollection, opening the heart, investigating the nature of the waking state and its relationship with our dreams, and finally investigate the nature of consciousness itself. Each takes you a step further on the path to enlightenment, but we need not believe in a specific creed to commit to them, and quickly you can see for yourself how these relieve the sufferings of our mind and will lead to a greater sense of wellness and satisfaction.

Practice

In each of these practices, we began the session by establishing a proper body posture, and cultivate three qualities: relaxation, stability, and clarity.

Relaxation

There are two positions that I recommend for this practice: sitting or lying down. Generally, the best and most widely recommended posture is sitting on a cushion with legs crossed. If this is too uncomfortable, you can sit in a chair with both feet resting on the floor. But another approach used, not as common, is lying on your back, arms outstretched at your sides, palms up, and your head resting on a pillow. This is especially useful if you have back problems or if you are physically tired or sick.

Any posture you adopt, let your body rest comfortable, with your spine erect but not rigid. Relax your shoulders, with your free arms loose at its sides. Soften your eyes. Let your face relax as much as that of a sleeping baby. After completing this initial relaxation process taking three deep slow breaths through the nostrils. As you inhale, breathe slowly and deeply to the bottom of your abdomen. As if filling a pot with water, fill your belly and expand slowly, then breathe into your diaphragm, and finally to the upper chest. After breathing let it completely free, without forcing it out. Do this three times keeping your attention in the body, especially noting the sensations of the entrance and exit of air. Following these deep breaths, breathing returns to normal, unregulated. Let this quality of physical relaxation be an outward expression of your mind: let your conscience be relaxed, releasing all your worries; simply to be present here and now.

As you inhale and exhale, turn your attention to the tactile sensations of breathing passage in the openings of the nostrils or upper lip. Take a moment to find the feeling. Rest your attention right where you feel the incoming and outgoing breath. Occasionally, check you’re still breathing into the abdomen. This will happen naturally if your body is seated with your back straight and relaxed and soft belly.

Stability

During each session of meditation allow your body to stay as still as possible, with minimal nervousness; remain motionless as a mountain. This helps to generate the same quality in mind: a quietness, where your attention is focused and continuous.

Clarity

If you’re lying, still allow your posture reflect a sense of vigilance, not only collapsing into numbness. If you are sitting, whether on a cushion or in a chair, lift your sternum slightly, keeping your belly soft and relaxed. In this way, you naturally breathe in your abdomen, and when breathing deepens, feel your diaphragm and your chest expand as well. Sit attentive without slouching forward or leaning to either side. This physical posture also strengthens the quality of mental alertness.

On this post we are going to explore the first of these 5 practices we talked at the beginning.

Mindfulness of Breathing

Keeping focused attention is vital to virtually everything we do during the day, including work, drive, interact with others, enjoy entertainment and leisure time, and engage in spiritual practice. Therefore, is important to learn to focus our attention. Whatever your normal level, whether you’re usually dispersed or concentrated, the quality of your attention can be improved, and this brings rewards. In this practice, we are taking our conceptually compulsive fragmented conscience, towards deeper simplicity, moving towards a form of witness or an observer. In addition to improving attention, this meditation will improve your health, purge your nervous system, will allow you to sleep better, and improve your emotional balance. This is a different way to apply our minds, and improve with practice. The specific method is to continue growing mindfulness of breathing.

Because of habit, thoughts are likely to arise. When they arise, just as you exhale release them without identifying with them, not responding emotionally to them. Observe the thought emerge, passing in front of you and then fade. Hold your mindfulness of breathing as continuously as possible. You can count your breaths if that’s helpful.

Close your practice session in a meaningful way, dedicate your effort. Something has been gathered in our hearts and minds to apply to ourselves to this constructive activity. After completing the meditation session, you might want to dwell for a minute or so, to dedicate the merit of your practice that can lead to the satisfaction of whatever you find most meaningful to you and others. With intention and attention, this benefit can be directed to wherever we want.

Adapted from the book: “Genuine Happiness” by my teacher Alan Wallace. Spanish translation by Alma and Yonam Ayon