Mindfulness Meditation or Breath Watching © 2013, 2015 Richard Chandler, MA
The second strategy, Vipassana mindfulness meditation, works for times of worry when the first strategy isn’t convenient to do or when you have already written things out, yet anxiety ridden thoughts persist. This meditation technique has been used for thousands of years in yoga, all forms of Buddhism including Zen, many other eastern spiritual traditions as well as in Christian “Centering Prayer.”
Here is how to do it. Notice your breathing, particularly the quality of your out-breath. Pay attention to how it feels as the air enters your lungs, expanding your abdomen and chest and how your out-breath empties out, automatically contracting your chest and abdomen. Notice your breath gently dissolving into space.
As you’re paying attention to the sensation of your breathing, you’ll eventually notice that you have been thinking. It doesn’t matter at all what the nature of these thoughts are. They could be worry thoughts… But they could also be thoughts about anything at all. Whatever they are, they are just thoughts. When you notice that you have been thinking, you simply label it as “thinking” or use a word like “detach,” and go back to noticing your breathing and how your body feels while noticing your breathing.
You might be amazed to discover how often you lapse into thinking. No worries. By doing the technique, over time, the worry thoughts will no longer dominate. You’ll discover that you can relax into the essence of your being, the part of you that is pure perception and more fundamental than any thoughts, whatever they might be.
Initially, it helps to learn the technique of mindfulness meditation by sitting comfortably and quietly with your eyes open, gently gazing out in front of you. Over time, you will find that it can be done in virtually any setting and while engaged in other activities, including exercising or driving.
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