What are the principles of mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness for beginners, Components and Principles
In previous posts we have talked about Mindfulness , its possible applications with children and certain popular myths about this practice. In this Mindfulness article for beginners, we want to describe what are the fundamental principles related to attitude during the practice of mindfulness. It will be essential to take them into account in order to guarantee the understanding of correct practice.
- Not judge
It implies abandoning the tendency to categorize and evaluate experiences as good or bad, so that our response to a situation or experience is not based on evaluative labels, but based on how we actually experience the situation or experience in itself and in every moment This implies trying to observe the experience as it is presented to us, without evaluating it, categorizing it or judging it. This principle has a great importance. Maybe you need to stop for a few seconds to think, to realize how the situations that most stress you normally produce in your daily life, do so based on your own beliefs and judgments that you elaborate about the situations themselves.
In most cases situations, sensations, thoughts, emotions … that are suffered as harmful, they do so because they are judged and valued in a negative way. For what it is really this assessment and this judicious attitude that contributes to that we generate discomfort. If we can get rid of judgments and assessments even if only for a moment, we will realize that the perception of our experiences will be more objective, and the suffering we experience in certain situations will be much less.
It means being able to respect the natural processes of events and internal mental and physiological events, without pretending to force, precipitate or change them. It consists in being open to each particular moment, without wanting to or trying to modify anything. Let us give an example related to our way of breathing during meditation: When we begin to meditate, it is probable that our breathing is not a calm and relaxed diaphragmatic breathing. However, during meditation we do not intend to change it, we simply observe it, and accept it as it is in each moment. As the meditation progresses, little by little, we will realize that the breathing gradually shows its characteristics (transforming into a calm and relaxed diaphragmatic breathing on its own).
- Beginner’s mind
It is about letting go of expectations based on previous experiences, and keeping our minds free of these, so that thoughts, expectations or prior knowledge do not prevent us from seeing things as they really are. When we put the autopilot, something quite common, we just recognize and label the experiences, so we use the information we already had about situations, and previous and similar experiences, to act in present situations. When we do this, we do not allow ourselves to live the current experiences, taking full advantage of them, we simply lose many interesting details and parts of our lived moments.
An interesting exercise that shows us the importance of living each moment as a new moment, is to taste a food that we consume frequently (or even a food that we think we do not like), lending 100% of our attention to its texture , flavor, aroma, juiciness … It is possible that until that moment we did not know exactly how that food tastes, due to the amount of details that go unnoticed when we do not pay real attention. It is amazing how many things we take for granted, and how we usually put the autopilot in our daily lives, losing many nuances. Learning to be focused and aware in the present moment, maintaining a curious attitude about our experiences, helps us to enjoy more of the immediate present moment.
In this case reference is made to the need to be responsible for ourselves, to learn to listen to ourselves and to trust in our own being. It is important that we are able to trust our authority, before seeking a guide outside of ourselves. This attitude of self-confidence is very important in all facets of the practice of meditation, especially in the practice of yoga or physical exercise. In this way we will learn to listen to our own sensations and our body. It is important to trust in yourself, to be able to trust our own criteria and intuitions, because during meditation our main teacher and guide will be ourselves.
- Do not try
It implies abandoning the efforts made to obtain results. With the constant practice in mindfulness the results will appear by themselves without we try to force their appearance. Effort is a concept opposed to the principles and attitudes that are cultivated in Mindfulness . Endeavor involves trying to change something, this is contrary to being patient and accepting situations and experiences moment by moment.
It means seeing things as they are in the present moment, accepting the perceived experience, letting go of the desire to change the situation. Habitually acceptance is the final step of an intense emotional process, in which first we deny what happens, then we are filled with anger and finally, already defeated, we manage to accept it. This very cost process can be replaced by the intentional cultivation of acceptance. It should not be confused with adopting a passive attitude or stance, nor should we like everything. Rather it consists in developing the will to see things as they are, accepting the present experience in an intentional way. Acceptance has great relevance especially for what we have to live with and we can not change or control.