• Evonna McDonald

Quick Guide on How to Mediate If You're Just Starting Out

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

What Is It? Mindfulness is all about training the mind to return to the present moment over and over again. It sounds simple, right? But, when you consider that most of us spend the present thinking over the past or planning for the future without even intending to, returning to the present starts to sound a little more tricky. Mindfulness is about coming home to our lived experience. Think about it. In all of your planning and analyzing, what little pleasures are you missing in the here and now?
Why Try It? Researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley have found that practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, lead to more frequent positive emotions, and give you a greater sense of control over your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. But mindfulness isn’t just about feeling good. Practicing mindfulness can increase your confidence and your productivity, helping you to be more effective in your workplace. People who practice mindfulness are able to pay attention to a task for longer periods of time and, overall, are more resilient in the workplace. No matter how you’re looking to improve your life, there’s a benefit for everyone in trying mindfulness meditation.
How To Do It? Getting started is easy. One of the first exercises that any mindfulness teacher will task you to do is mindfully eat a raisin. All you need is 5 minutes and a raisin. If you don’t have a raisin or can’t stand the taste of them, any single piece of food will do. A square of chocolate might be a fun way to get started. Here’s how you do it: Try to go through this exercise without any judgments. There is no good or bad, there’s just observation. Being non-judgmental is key. If you find yourself distracted or judging what you’re doing, just bring yourself back to your awareness of the raisin.
Step 1. To begin, hold the raisin in the palm of your hand and investigate it. Look at the raisin as though it is brand new, as though you’ve never seen it before. What color is it? How does the light hit it? Where are the shadows? Step 2. Now touch the raisin. Roll it between your fingers. How does it feel? Step 3. Bring the raisin to your nose. How does it smell? Does it smell sweet to you? What happens to your body as your smell it? Most people will find that their mouth waters. Step 4. Raise your hand to your ear and move the raisin around between your fingers. How does it sound? Step 5. Bring the raisin to your mouth. What does it feel like against your lips? Now place the raisin on your tongue. Don’t bite into it, just notice how it feels in your mouth. Step 6. Now bite into it once. Notice how it tastes, what it feels like in your mouth. Slowly begin to chew it. Step 7. Now swallow the raisin. Feel it make its way down your throat. Be present to the feeling. Be conscious of the fact that this practice, this feeling and tuning in to your own body, is an act of self-love. One of the original mindfulness teachers in the west, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says, "When we taste with attention, even the simplest foods provide a universe of sensory experience, awakening us to them." When you choose to practice this kind of attention, you are also awakening to your body and your experience of living in it. This kind of awareness is the basis of living a happy and productive life. Now that you know the benefits and how to do it, take on the challenge of eating breakfast mindfully everyday for a week. Follow the same steps for the exercise above and give yourself the gift of your presence. Slowing down and checking in could change your life as it has changed mine.
- Love & Light, Evonna✨
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