Day 1: Connect with Your Natural Awareness
An excerpt from Take a 3-Day Mindfulness Journey: 6 Practices for Spring by Barry Boyce, Sharon Salzburg, and Mark Bertin
Like any good spring cleaning, let’s get right down to the basics of mindfulness and meditation. One of the most foundational aspects of mindfulness is the ability to calm and focus the mind using your breath. By bringing your attention back to the breath each time you feel your mind wander during meditation, you can strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus over time. Cultivate greater attention with these short meditation practices.
In the Morning • Tune In to Your Natural Awareness
In mindfulness practice, you might often hear the term “natural awareness.” By natural awareness, we mean the awareness that simply comes with being a human being. It’s free from judging and characterizing—it’s just noticing and sensing the world.
Settle into your seat. Begin by taking a seat, or if necessary, standing. The important thing is to feel where your body is touching the seat and touching the ground.
Scan the body. Sense where your bottom is touching the seat. Sit up straight or stand straight but not stiff. Make sure your feet are completely touching the ground, connecting you to the earth. Your eyes are open, so take in the surroundings of where you are. Lower your gaze slightly.
Connect with the breath. Pay light attention to your breath as it goes out. Breathe in naturally.
Follow the out-breath. At the end of each out-breath, let there be a gap while the in-breath is happening. And in that gap you have natural awareness: It’s there already, you don’t have to create it. So, follow the breath out, and take a moment to rest in your natural awareness before the in-breath. As thoughts arise, treat them as you would anything else you encounter: Notice them, and use that noticing to bring you back to the out-breath and ride it out.
In the evening • Tune In to Your Meta-Awareness
The moment of noticing a thought is a very powerful moment. It’s really where the meditation occurs. That’s because there’s a spark of insight at that point, what in technical terms is called meta-awareness: You’re aware of your thought process, not just caught up in it. Now at that moment, there are lots of possibilities.
You can touch that thought and gently bounce back to attention on the breath and your body. But you might also say “Oh damn, there I go thinking again, I just can’t get away from this.”
One of the wonderful things about meditation is the fact that it allows for such a monumental amount of failure. Failure is just fine. So, if you’re sitting in meditation for 10 minutes and you don’t notice your thought until the bell rings at the end, that’s what that session was about. You learn from it. There will be another one. No big deal.
First, feel your bottom on the seat, and your feet on the floor or the ground, flat, touching the earth. Your eyes can be open or closed, head tilted slightly down. Your shoulders are relaxed, your hands are resting on your thighs, and your upper arms are parallel to your torso. Just take a moment to feel that posture.
Now we’re going to use the breath as an anchor for our attention. We don’t concern ourselves with trying to adjust the rate of the breath, we just come with whatever breath we have.
Notice that your mind is like a waterfall of thoughts.As we try to pay attention to the breath coming in and out, our mind is filled with thoughts. And in mindfulness practice, just notice the thought. Touch it, and go back to the breath.
Let your thoughts go. No matter what’s been going on during the session, you don’t need to evaluate it, just let it go. Open your eyes, and enjoy what’s coming next.
Take a 3-Day Mindfulness Journey: 6 Practices for Spring
BY BARRY BOYCE, SHARON SALZBERG, AND MARK BERTIN
Boyce, Barry, et al. “Take a 3-Day Mindfulness Journey: 6 Practices for Spring.” Mindful, 1 Apr. 2020, www.mindful.org/take-a-3-day-mindfulness-journey-6-practices-for-spring/.
Director of Strategic Communications
Rachel Wixey & Associates
During this uncertain time, I’ve tried to remain mentally balanced by intentionally focusing my mind on things that make me feel hopeful. Spring has always filled me with a sense of renewal, so I choose this article because these practices seem like the perfect way for me to integrate more awareness to this new season.