Sit. Close your eyes or keep them open. Observe your immediate environment.
How are you feeling? What do you feel? Where are the sensations most present? Are they moving from one place to another? How intense are they? Focus on them. Move closer to them. Be with them.
What are you thinking about? Why? Where did the thought come from? Did you think it or did it appear on its own? What is the thought related to? Are you thinking about everything that you have to do today? Are your thoughts positive, neutral, or negative? Are they connected? If yes, how? If not, are they random? Who’s directing them?
Are you anxious? Are you wondering how long you’ve been meditating for? Do you want to stop? If yes, why? The world can wait. Breathe in and out slowly.
If your eyes are closed, open them. Move your eyes around and look at different physical objects. Memories will appear. Notice them. Move towards them. Are images of memories flashing for nanoseconds at a time or are mini-movies playing in your mind? Watch them with awareness. What happens to them? Where do they go?
Apps for meditation
Prior to 2017, I thought the goal of mindfulness meditation was to eliminate thoughts. I was frustrated when I quickly realized how impossible that was. I gave up over and over again.
In 2017, through various apps, I started to realize how simple and powerful the practice of meditation is. The two apps I practiced with were Calm and Simple Habit. Both are great and started me on the right path. I used Calm until the end of the year. I discovered Insight Timer in late 2017 and have practiced with it every day since December 31, 2017. On most days, I also do a guided session with Sam Harris’ Waking Up app.
Insight Timer has “the largest free library of guided meditations on earth.” The timer has various settings including being able to choose a bell to go off every X minutes. I use this feature a lot. There is a compatible Apple Watch app that is minimal but invaluable; I meditate more because of it. I encourage you to try out various apps and then stick with the one that resonates with you most.
Being lost in thought
Even though I’ve been practicing meditation daily since July 2017, I’m lost in thought for the majority of my sessions. But instead of trying to shove my thoughts away, I move closer to them. I lean in and give them a bear hug.
I sometimes wonder what lead to this or that thought. I replay the most recent images in my mind to decipher the connection if there is any. I then let go. I watch the thought disappear. I smile. I breathe.
Being mindful of my thought process has been illuminating for me.
Pause. Smile. Breathe. Be.