Improve your awareness – a simple instruction for looking inwards
This is a simple instruction how to begin with awareness training. With growing skills you can add more delicate observation tasks. But let’s start simple. This instruction is grown out of my own experience to learn and teach meditation. The source is Vipassana meditation as described in Buddhist literature since 2500 years. But the way I teach it it is not religious at all. It is pure mindfulness training, a exercise for your brain. A training to become more aware of what is going on in and around you.
So how to start?
- Set aside a specific time. Start with a dedicated stretch of time – 5 minutes every day can be a good start. Use a timer so you don’t have to control the watch.
- Prepare a proper space, where you are undisturbed for the time. Switch your mobile in flight mode.
- Sit in a comfortable position. This can be on the edge of a chair or on a cushion on the ground. It doesn’t matter. Try to sit upright so you are relaxed yet alert. Find a comfortable position for your hands on your legs, maybe like the astronaut on the picture.
- Close your eyes if this is OK for you. I recommend it as I found it myself easier. If you want to let them open, try not to focus on anything but let them rest on a spot some meters in front of you.
- Start observing your breath. Your breath is your anchor for keeping yourself alert and curious. Pic a specific part of your respiratory system, like your nostrils, lungs, or diaphragm to focus on. Take the spot where you easily sense your breath.
- When your body breathes in just know that you breath in. When your body breathes out just know that you breath out. You can use the words “in” and “out” spoken silently to support your observation.
- You can do some deep breath in the beginning, but then let the body breath naturally.
- It is important not to focus too tense on your breath. This is not concentration exercise, this is awareness training. The goal is to keep your mind awake but not over engaged.
- Very soon your mind will start wander around, observe, feel and think. A bit like a bad educated child that cannot sit still. This is how it is and this is exactly why you do it. Your task is to notice the moment, when your mind strolls away. What ever it does, just be aware of what is going on.
- It can be supportive to use a simple word to mark what you notice. Use short words like: hearing, thinking, pain, knee, worrying, anger, boredom….
- Don’t investigate deeper, don’t start thinking, blaming yourself or analyze. If you simple notice what is going on you do a perfect job. That is all you have to do. Well done. Give yourself a smile.
- Bring your awareness gently back to your breath. In and out. Until your mind starts wandering around again ….
When the bell stops your training session, try to be proud and happy for what you did. Some days come easy, sometimes it is very difficult to focus. Some days you will have a perfect calm sitting, some days your mind is in rage. It doesn’t matter. You did your training. That is all, what is important. Great job. Congratulation.
For couples with a bit of meditation experience I recommend to try Insight Dialogue. A beautiful way of increasing awareness and connecting on a deeper level.