I recently participated in Mindfulness Tools, a 5-Day residential intensive program, based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR).
I have been meditating off and on for a while and I really wanted to to immerse myself in the experience.

I know myself well enough to know that I spend too much time in my mind. Thinking, worrying, ruminating. All of those places the mind takes us.

I realize that this habit is not serving me and part of the intention for attending the intensive program was because I want to spend more of my time awake, in the present moment. For me, that requires getting out of my thinking mind and dropping into the wisdom of my heart.

The experience was amazing. Spending an hour meditating consistently revealed a lot to me about the nature of my mind, my emotions and my habits.

If you have never meditated, I highly recommend it!

I realize that many of us don’t have five days to devote to a residential program; however, you can still manage to create a meditation practice of your own.

Here are some tips for a seated meditation:

Strapped for time? Not a problem. Even if you can set aside five minutes in the morning, you will notice positive benefits.

Set a timer (I like InsightTimer, a free app that you can download here ). Sitting is preferred over lying down, so you can sit on the floor or in a chair.

Sitting helps you feel grounded and roots you into your body when you meditate. Feel free to use pillows, cushions, and other props that help you feel comfortable. Keep your back straight so you can breathe deeply with ease.

If you prefer sitting, use a straight backed chair and place your feet firmly on the floor to develop a sense of grounding.

In my meditation space I have a zafu meditation cushion that I purchased from Dharma Crafts , as well as a folding chair.

Once you find a comfortable position, close your eyes to minimize visual distractions and try focusing on your breath with each inhalation and exhalation.

Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield suggests that if you notice yourself remembering, planning, or fantasizing, refrain from judging yourself and just name it. “Ah, yes, there’s that planning.”  or “Hello fantasizing.” Then return to the present moment, focusing on your breath.

The minute you notice your thoughts starting to wander, gently come back to your breath.

It is normal for the mind to wander. The good news is that the more you practice, the less your mind will wander.

Meditation helps the body shift from the flight or fight response (fear) to the rest and digest response (relaxation) and can be a great tool to have in your toolbox if you want to reduce your stress and find a deeper connection to yourself.

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