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Mindfulness Meditation

Eileen Ybarra, Librarian III, Electronic Resources,
African American woman in mindfulness meditation
Within mindfulness meditation, you can create some stillness amid an active mind

We may all find ourselves in higher stress and uncertainty these days. I know I have met my fair share of emotional difficulty in the past few months. What has helped steady me is my mindfulness meditation practice. For over 15 years, I have engaged in this daily practice of creating greater ease from within. Mindfulness meditation brings a gentle emphasis and present-time awareness. We may find ourselves lost in different worries or anxieties throughout the day; however, mindfulness meditation is one way where we can create steady attention to simple bodily presence in the moment. We can bring this intentional awareness of our everyday experience with meditation.

Engaging in mindfulness mediation does not mean that you have to be calm, to begin with! Sometimes people have an idea that you have to “have a quiet mind” to meditate. This is not necessarily the case at all. Within mindfulness meditation, you can create some stillness amid an active mind. There is no requirement to have certain emotions or mental mind state for meditation. There is no requirement to have a specific body type either.

Here are some basic instructions for meditation. I have taught many classes using this easy method:

  • Set aside time to meditate. This could be as little as a few minutes or a half-hour or more. Whatever you feel called to do. You may want to set a timer for this, such as on a smartphone.
  • Find a comfortable spot where you can sit with quiet around you and lack of interruption. If appropriate, this can even be done outside, as long as you are in a comfortable quiet place.
  • Arrange yourself sitting comfortably, in whatever way that is well-supportive of your bodily structure. Whether it’s on the floor with cushions, a chair, or the side of your bed, whatever way works for you.
  • Close your eyes and start with a couple of deep breaths.
  • Connect with your awareness by placing gentle attention within the body.
  • Start from the top of your head down through the bottom of your toes. Like water pouring into a glass. Smooth, gentle and at ease.
  • Bring your attention to the breath. This could be at the passage of air at the nostrils or the rise and fall of your belly.
  • That’s it! Naturally, you may find your attention wander. You may have many thoughts, maybe emotions or other bodily sensations occurring at all at once. You don’t have to stop any of those things.

Experiment with a gentle intention to return your primary attention to your breath. Try and allow everything else you notice to be in the background. It’s ok if you occasionally forget to come back to the breath. It’s all part of practicing meditation.

Our OverDrive/Libby collection on Meditation & Mindfulness is a fantastic resource for more information, as well as some of my favorite titles listed below.

Recommended Books For Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness in Plain English
Gunaratana, Henepola

Meditation for Beginners
Kornfield, Jack

The Little Book of Being
Winston, Diana

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics
Harris, Dan

How To Meditate
Chodron, Pema

Young, Shinzen

Mindfulness For Beginners
Kabat-Zinn, Jon

Wherever You Go, There You Are
Kabat-Zinn, Jon

10% Happier
Harris, Dan