The First Essential Principle of Meditation: P R E S E N C E
This is the first of a four-part series designed to help you begin a 10-15 minute self-directed practice with confidence. These four foundational principles are also helpful to inspire your existing practice, and to build further on the skills that you already have.
If you are someone who is by no means a newbie to meditation, I invite you to continue to listen; to gather more of what I believe will inspire your existing practice. Each of these four essential principles will remind you of what necessary tools will enrich your meditation experience and also provide a depth of nourished wisdom to your life beyond your meditation cushion or chair, as you wield these four principles in your daily life.
As a meditation and mindfulness teacher, I wanted to offer you something here that will allow you to begin a meditation practice of your own; guided by these four essential principles, and the teachings that will allow you to feel comfortable with your ability; so that you may experience the positive benefits of meditation and mindfulness that so many appraise.
I also want to encourage you if you have ever thought that meditation is not for you; to consider how you may already be practicing mindfulness and meditation; albeit in different ways – and to realize the beauty of meditation in its many and varied forms.
Something that I personally noticed when I began mediating more than two decades ago: I noticed that I was an acutely more aware and conscientious to all of the subtleties of life.
Think: highly self-aware and acutely attuned to everything around me. (To be sensitive to others is something that we all may benefit from; and that which guides our every decision to be more conscious and kind.) This is one of many incredible experiences I have continued to witness because of meditation.
Meditation does have a positive benefit on our lives beyond what minutes you choose to dedicate to your practice. Here’s a short list of some of the most important benefits of meditation to you:
1.* Improved attention and accuracy while completing a task, and new research may suggest that meditation can reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention.
2.* The reduction of anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, along with an increase in positive self-statements and the improvement of stress reactivity and coping.
4.* Increased positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others. For example, ‘metta’ which is a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, helps you to witness kind thoughts and feelings directed towards yourself.
5. * The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies and addictive behavior by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers.
6. * Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep. One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer.
7. * A large meta-analysis of studies enrolling nearly 3,500 participants concluded that meditation was associated with decreased pain. While those who meditate and those who do not meditate experience the same causes of pain, meditators showed a greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced a reduced sensation of pain.
8. * Meditation allows for a better understanding of yourself and how you relate to others around you.
Why is this important?
Meditation is the art of deliberate focus and attention unto a single point or object. There are different ways that you can meditate.
“To meditate is to live in the knowledge and grace of what is here before you; to witness “what is” – in this moment.”
In the present moment you witness a state of inner peace and calm that is always present within you; and that which you may attune to both during meditation and in other moments of your life.
One of the benefits of a regular practice is to more easily return to and live in the inner calm that exists within you.
These four essential teachings of meditation are secular and beautifully accompany what types of meditation you practice as well as what religious and/or spiritual beliefs you hold. As these principles are skill-based, they will allow you to witness your progression and confidence in all that you experience.
These essential four principles are needed to give you the complete experience of meditation. You can and will likely draw more to you as you begin practicing on a regular basis. 5 to 10 minutes a day is a wonderful start and as you wish to carve out more time, perhaps 15 minutes or longer, you will unearth an experience that grounds and centers your being and helps to reaffirm the meaning of calm and balance felt throughout your body.
Let’s Dive Into This:
The first of four essential principles of meditation is that of PRESENCE.
Presence is: the idea of attention and mindful awareness to what you observe here and in each moment.
This means to notice when you are thinking about the past or future so you may actively return your attention to here... and now.
When you live in the presence of this moment; and for each moment – as the only moment that is truly important; and in which you are able to effect change; to choose, to take thoughtful and deliberate actions, to feel; to witness life unfolding and to imagine in the present what is desired of the future. There is no other moment in which to live from.
To be present to what you observe is a far more welcoming and effortless way to experience meditation, rather than to put forth effort to still and quiet the mind. When you choose to focus in the presence of now, you allow the mind to witness quite naturally as you remain aware and awake of this moment – and the next and the next.
Skill practice: Set a timer for 5 minutes to begin. It might actually amaze you how you can practice presence for this length of time and how natural this begins to feel.
I would suggest you practice presence first with your eyes open; to allow in through your senses what you observe with mindfulness and in the absence of judgment. This is noticing yourself and your experience one moment at a time.
Be an observer. Take in what you are aware of without a need to analyze or judge; just notice. Then you may also wish to close your eyes to continue in the allotted time in the experience of present moment awareness. Focus inward with eyes closed and unto the inner dwelling states of your beautiful nature.
Some further guidance for this is to use your breath.
Breath is the only process of the human body that is both unconscious and conscious. You can bring awareness to your breath to bring deliberate change to how you breathe and your respiration rate; in order to feel calm and self-soothed. You can also use breath to increase your lung capacity. You can go about your day without giving your breathing any thought and it will continue to occur on its own, or you can gently guide your breath with intention to calm and soothe you.
The breath is normally under subconscious control. As you bring breath into your consciousness, you gradually become more aware of the other parts of yourself that you have been unaware of (which have been unconscious).
Through deliberate attention to your breath, you become more aware of yourself in new ways and to know yourself more deeply.
If you focus on your breath for a time – in the presence of what you witness, notice what happens. For example; if you ride the wave of breath; it will lead you into peace, into feeling comfort and ease. Your breath will also illuminate other experiences.
Here you can witness presence as you experience your breath already in motion; always with you. This is one immediate way to experience the present moment as you attend to your breath and as you synchronize with it.
Another way to experience presence in your meditation practice or at any time in daily life is to witness your senses. For example, which of your five senses are your most aware of right now? What does the surface you sit or lie upon feel like? What do you smell, hear, see, taste.....
You can be immersed in your experience and what you observe through any or all of your sensory modalities as another means of holding presence and to be a gentle witness to your experience. This is how we live more attuned with all of life in the present moment.
Awareness and presence can set in motion a series of thoughts. You may see a bird and be fixated watching, noticing its grace and beauty; as you take in through your other senses, the smell of the air, and what sounds you hear. You may also notice your thoughts of the bird, or be reminded of something similar, or your thoughts may shift to something entirely different.
Your thoughts may eventually take you out of the present moment as they lead to other kinds of thoughts now no longer about the bird or what you are witness to right now. Just be aware of the mind and as you notice your attention has moved – shifted – out of the present.
Thoughts of observation, for example, “What a beautiful bird.” “How majestic this bird is.” allow you to engage in the present moment as you take in your experience of what you observe.
Practice the habit of presence. Bring it into daily life. And to the moments you live. Live these aware and awake and in the full experience of what ‘is’. Your homework for this essential principle is to commit to a 5min practice once or preferably several times a day to experience what it feels like to witness the present moment (to notice your experience as you are living it), and to bring your attention into now.
It is best to use a timer so you can focus uninterrupted on living fully present and aware and then after some practice of this, you won’t need a timer; you will enjoy what clock time you devote to the experience of your practice.
You may also wish to practice presence during an activity that requires your full attention; such as walking, running, reading, cooking, exercise, sport, and of course work tasks.
Perhaps you will begin to witness the benefits of giving all of your attention to a single thing and to experience that fully. You may want to record your observations at the end of each meditation practice to remind you of all that you have noticed and to appreciate moments of now that honor the beauty of life and all that you are.
Remember the goal is not to hold presence for the completed allotted time, but rather to experience what it means to flow in and out of presence because that is what we do. What is helpful to you is to experience when you are existing in this moment and the next, and the next and when you have noticed that you are no longer doing so; and to faithfully guide your attention – your presence into now.
The practice of being present has a plethora of benefits including: better execution and attention to details that matter, especially under pressure; improved listening and memory skills, improved creativity, greater ease in social situations, openness, playfulness, and your enhanced enjoyment of the world around you. Being present is also a way to enjoy completely – what your experience is – here and now.
To practice presence as a fundamental principle of meditation or in the waking moments of your life allows for you to witness life as it unfolds moment by moment all around you.
For example at the end of a day, how many present moment experiences could you recall and revel because you were wide awake and attentive and taking in the present moment with your senses and also through deliberate breath? How many moments could you tangibly relive because of the presence that you held in that moment?
You may as some of my clients and students keep a journal – a noted record of some of the experiences lived fully present. This is also something that I do. It anchors memory and the gratitude of all that is right before me. I hope that you will also record some of your moments lived fully present.
I have also created a 4-part video series to highlight each of these four principles that I will sharing with you in this free course. 💜 I hope that you will enjoy each of the videos as yet another tool to guide and support your practice. You can find a link for each video beginning with the first on the practice of presence here in the description.
And finally, I’m going to leave a short list of guided meditations for you to experience. These will help you acquire the skills of presence. I also invite you to check out The Wisdom Archives.
This is a beautiful collection of guided meditations and mindfulness teachings; spiritual and secular practices that will help you to approach meditation and all of your life with the sacred practices for living whole. This includes the attitude and presence of what you bring into your meditation practice and in how you choose to approve and live all of the moments of your life – now and forever.
Have a wonderful experience of practice and please share your insights and feedback here in the course comments section. I always appreciate hearing from you!
* Why Taking A Deep Breath Feels Good [The WISDOM BLOG Post]
* The Five Best '5-Minute' Mindfulness and Meditation Life Hacks [Podcast Episode]
* To Live In The Present Moment + Guided Meditation [Podcast Episode]
Guided Meditations for the practice of p r e s e n c e
Sharing the wisdom and beauty of divine love with you...
If you have a question or if you would like my guidance or help, please reach out to me: [email protected]
Find all Episodes of The WISDOM podcast here
Love in your inbox? Subscribe to my weekly WISDOM Notes here
A GENEROUS 'THANK YOU' TO AUDIO ENGINEER, P. KIRPIKAU RADIOPLATO
PODCAST THEME MUSIC: 'AURA' FROM THE ALBUM, ILLUVIA BY ETERNELLWWW.ETERNELL.NET/ALBUM/ILLUVIA
ACCOMPANYING MUSIC: ETERNELL, 'dancing with wind'