Meditation Retreats

You Can Start Meditating Today

Craig and Devon Hase teach a simple five minute mindfulness practice that you can do now.

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim.

There are roughly a bajillion reasons you should probably be meditating right now. Aside from particularly Buddhist topics like enlightenment or nirvana, or total liberation from the endless cycle of suffering, there are some perfectly legitimate, instantly beneficial ways that mindfulness and meditation can be good for you starting today.

In short, we can say that meditation refers to a wide range of practices designed to help people suffer less and live with greater ease and wellbeing. Mindfulness is both the mind’s ability to know and the development of that ability. It is both an ingredient in all meditation practices and a type of meditation in itself.

The ancient Buddhist word for mindfulness is sati. It turns out that sati is a very complex signifier and its meaning has been debated for centuries. For our purposes, however, we can define sati as “consciousness”. It is the mind’s ability to know. Consciousness knows the five senses, it knows thoughts, it knows tone of feeling and emotional value. And when this ability to know is developed, we can call it mindfulness. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when one is intentionally paying attention in the present moment – not judgmental.”

Here is a five minute exercise you can do to start your mindfulness practice today. Five minutes is just enough time for the mind to drop into the body. And letting the mind fall into the body is a great way to let go of some of the spinning, storming thoughts that make us unhappy for no great reason.

So let’s start by getting comfortable. When we meditate, it is nice to be relaxed and relaxed, but it is also helpful to be energized and alert in your body. You can try sitting on a pillow on the floor, in a chair, or on your couch. Your posture can vary – it’s just about making sure your body feels supported but also feels awake. Close your eyes if you want, or keep a gentle look down.

Now take a few deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of any thoughts, worries, or plans that may be on your mind. Let your breath return to a natural rhythm and just feel your body inside out.

Explore your inner weather patterns. Is it sunny inside? Or stormy? Or maybe you can’t feel anything. That’s okay. Just be curious about this experience of having a body. Do you feel tense or relaxed in different parts of your body? Do you feel warm or cold Do you feel pressure where you sit? Use your awareness to feel all of your physical sensations as they come and go.

Of course, your mind will wander and get lost in thought when you do this. This is normal and natural and should happen. If you find yourself distracted, that’s fine. You have not failed in meditation. This realization of your wandering mind is actually a moment of sati, of remembering to be aware of it. Just come back to feel your body in the present moment.

Congratulation! You just meditated! They cultivated mindfulness or present moment awareness. You can also do this mental exercise throughout the day. Whenever you remember, come back to your body and feel its sensations, posture and temperature.

Adapted from How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Modern Living Survival Guide, by Devon & Craig Bunny © 2020 by Devon Bunny and Craig Bunny. Reprinted in consultation with Shambhala Publications.

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