Amazing 8 Step Mindfulness Meditation
How to Live a Mindful Life
You’re walking into a store, and it happens, you get triggered by something. A trigger can come in many ways, it could be emotional, physical, visual, smell, etc. The temptation to return to a past behavior you thought you left behind a while ago comes at you. Are you mindful of your thoughts, what do you do?
“…Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. However, the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. Its only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.” – Dan Millman
If the definition of addiction is that one has lost the ability to choose, how can that ability be reclaimed? It starts with watching your mind.
“We know that the ancestor of every action is a thought” (Emerson. “Spiritual Laws.”)
Your brain cannot tell the difference between a vivid thought or something that is seen with your natural physical eyes. All behavior is preceded by a thought or a series of thoughts that were given attention.
To live a more fulfilling life and to accomplish your goals you must become more aware of your thought processes. After you become aware of your thoughts, direct them through mindfulness. Mindfulness is making a conscious choice as to which thoughts to give attention to and focus on.
It’s Your Choice – Rewind the Tape
At every moment of your life, you have a choice as to which thoughts you will pay attention to or entertain and which ones we will let slip away. Most people are not accustomed to the awareness this requires. We each have a gatekeeper in our mind; we need to learn to recognize and pay attention to it. Even if one is completely enveloped in a negative behavior, the process of change can begin in an instant with a choice.
Learning to watch your thoughts is essential on the path of change. Most likely you have never been trained to do this. Negative behaviors are usually preceded by small and simple choices. These choices are mostly made without full awareness.
In the therapy setting, our therapists help clients process their slips. We use a simple technique called “rewinding the tape.” Think about what was happening before the action took place. Most of the time the slip occurred several days, weeks and sometimes months before the negative behavior manifests itself. If you learn to rewind the tape and recognize the process, you can build guardrails along the way.
Sabotage For Safety
When you choose to make choices in your life that will empower and benefit you, your mind may try to sabotage you for safety. Any time you become Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired, your mind seeks to help you survive. Your mind is going through your life of tapes trying to identify what helped you relax in the past. However, this false sense of safety can sabotage you if you are trying to push towards anything that’s new, like personal improvement.
Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
As you are pushing forward towards something new, you may experience thoughts like this:
“Are you sure you can do this, you have failed so many times in the past? You know you will fail again, so why try?”
“What if you fail? You’ll be a failure! If you don’t try at least, you can protect yourself from failure and keep your dignity. You know how painful failure is and it is better to protect yourself from possible failure.”
Once you recognize your thoughts, you can ask yourself if you want to have those thoughts and if they are serving you. After you identify the thoughts you want to keep and those you don’t, rewrite your thoughts. Here’s an example of rewriting thoughts:
“I manage my life so that my failures help me improve and be a better person.”
“I know what I should do when I experience negative thoughts and I reprogram them.”
“The more failures I have the closer to success I get.”
“My failures in life have helped me learn valuable lessons so I can help others.”
Rewrite & Meditate
Besides rewriting your story about your life and failure, here’s a simple meditation technique to help you improve your mindfulness and awareness. Again, the basic idea behind awareness is learning to live in the present moment.
This powerful form of meditation will teach you how to watch your thoughts.
In the past, you may have said things like, “I wish I could stop thinking that,” or “I wish I would stop doing this!” When you make these types of statements, you are in fight mode. Research has shown that making these statements tends to make the unwanted thoughts and actions more powerful. This form of meditation teaches you how to become more aware of how your mind works by engaging your rational, thinking part of the brain.
Here are the eight steps for mindfulness meditation:
Step 1) Memorize a Thought
Memorize a meaningful passage, positive quote, something uplifting and encouraging.
Step 2) Find a Quiet Place
Once the passage is memorized, you are ready to begin the meditation process. When meditating, it is recommended that you find a quiet place so you can be undisturbed.
Step 3) Get Comfortable
You don’t want your mind to worry about your comfort level. Find a place to be comfortable, sitting in a chair or on the floor with your feet and arms resting comfortably.
Step 4) Choose Length of Time
Before you start meditating, choose a specific amount of time you will be meditating. It is suggested you begin with one minute. You will add more time as you gain greater mastery but start slowly as you begin.
One minute may seem like an eternity when you are not accustomed to doing this. If one minute was to easy, start doing five, ten, 15, 30 minutes or more.
Step 5) Close Your Eyes & Relax
Close your eyes, relax and take a few slow deep breaths.
Step 6) Repeat the Thought
Begin by repeating the words of your memorized passage. For the next minute, do nothing but slowly and deliberately repeat the words of your chosen passage over and over again.
Step 7) Pay Attention
As you are repeating your passage, pay close attention to what is going on in your mind. Your mind will start to drift, gently bring it back to the task.
Step 8) Guide Your Mind
You will quickly begin to notice the multitude of thoughts that will start distracting you. The purpose of this form of meditation is to notice those distractions, then gently bring your mind back to the task of repeating the verse or passage.
This is a simple but powerful practice that can strengthen your mind to become more aware of what is happening in your mind from moment to moment.
Many will teach you to confront negative thoughts by yelling STOP! However, I would strongly discourage this because when you yell at your mind, it will frustrate it and make it want to fight back. Fighting yourself is not good and only triggers more negative behaviors.