How to Start a Mindfulness Practice with Dr. Andrew Hill

DR. ANDREW HILL – A SIMPLE MEDITATION PRACTICE

Why meditation is worth doing – A Mindfulness Practice:

Beginning with a single point (samatha) meditation can stabilize and strengthen attention. Moving into a present-time awareness (vipassana), can bring flexibility to attention, and help develop a sense of equanimity. Together they can result in insightful awareness, arising from a place of calm, stable attention.

Before we start – A Mindfulness Practice?

1. This is a practice; effects emerge gradually.
2. Try to release judgement of your progress.
3. Observe what happens with a sense of curiosity.

Okay, how to meditate:

A Mindfulness Practice means Meditation works best as a day-starter, done with regularity. Try it for ten days. Get a timer app for your mobile device – there are many available for meditation (I prefer this one).

Set your timer for 20 minutes, and play “bells” or chimes. Three chimes at the beginning, one at five minutes, and three at the end. Sit upright, comfortably, and balanced. Sit in a posture you can maintain without strain. Ideally, sit without resting your back on any surface.

Use the bells to shift your attention. When they begin to sound, place your attention on the sound, and allow your eyes to close. Hold your attention through the duration of each sound. Notice it and whatever aspects of it there are to perceive (rising and falling volume, for instance).

Try to notice the very last moment of each tone…
…the small moment that transitions from sound to silence.

A Mindfulness Practice
A Mindfulness Practice

After the first 3 bells, do a Single Point Awareness practice (5 min):

    • 1. Place your attention on the sensation of breath crossing the upper lip as you breathe in and out-  just that one spot and sensation.
    • 2. When the single bell sounds, shift your attention to it. Notice the sound rising, falling…and its last moment.

When the single bell ends, begin a Present Time Awareness practice (15 min):

    • 1. Place your attention on the sensation of breath, rising and falling in the belly and body.
    • 2. Consider the classic instruction:

– When you are breathing in, know you are breathing in.

– When you are breathing out, know you are breathing out.

For both single-point and present-time awareness, the goal is not to have a “blank mind”, but instead to hold an object of attention within the type of focus you have chosen to maintain.

The object of this focus is often “the breath” but can be a spot of color, a concept, a tone or sound, or even a single element among many (try following a single instrument or voice in orchestral music).

For any type of meditation object and focus, begin by attending to that object or sensation.  Since you have a mind, it will drift.

When you notice that you are no longer attending to the object and inevitably find yourself remembering, dreaming, fantasizing, thinking, planning, fretting, taking mental notes…  redirect your attention back to the object of the meditation.

The cycle of (notice —> redirect) is the key to this type of meditation.

Practice makes perfect is imperfect, but it’s all that matters.  The practice of meditation or mindfulness develops resources. Each distraction is an opportunity to practice.

Final tips:

To add variety, or help quiet an incessant mind, you can add noting, or labeling.  For instance, it can be useful to observe the feeling-tone of the moment you are in (comfortable, anxious, sad, restless, calm, mixed, etc). You can also note the quality of the distracting thoughts (planning.. thinking.. remembering..) and then let it go and return your attention to the object of the meditation.

For instance –

“I’m planning”.. not now.. –> focus on the breath  ..  ..  ..

“I’m daydreaming” -> not right now -> breath .. .. .. ..

When to meditate:

If you have only 20 minutes a day to meditate, do it in the morning.

If you have only an hour, then meditate 30 minutes in morning and evening.

And if you don’t have time to meditate, you probably need to meditate for two hours 😉

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