The five essential elements of mindfulness meditation and relaxation 

1. Don’t have any expectations

Don’t expect that you will become relaxed; don’t expect that you will slow and quieten your thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is about being open to change and being aware of it if and when it happens, but don’t expect change. Expecting will limit possibilities and sets oneself up for disappointment.

2. Don’t try to become mindful or relaxed

Mindfulness and relaxation are best seen as spontaneous or even accidental by-products of meditation. If they happen it is because you have moved into a state of being and let go of the mind-set of becoming. If you try and make effort to become relaxed or mindful, you are using the energy of becoming and that cannot create the experience of being.

3. Accept everything, internally and externally

To experience relaxation and the sense of being of mindfulness, all one has to do is accept whatever is happening in each moment. It’s the simplest thing we could possibly do, but for the fact we have a deep habit of wanting things to be different. The desire for change and improvement is of course a good thing generally , it is just the case that it doesn’t work for meditation; what works in meditation is accepting whatever is happening externally in your immediate environment and, equally importantly, accepting whatever is happening internally in your mind and body.

4. Allowing things to flow

Awareness of the present is not a static thing; each and every moment is unique and everything is constantly changing and in a state of flux. To be with this continuous flow of the present, our awareness and our attention must be free to move and flow too. To this end, concentrating can be counterproductive to meditation and mindfulness. Whilst it is useful initially to practise focussing on one thing such as sounds or thoughts or sensations in the body or the breath, there comes a point where we have to let our attention break free from concentrating on any particular thing; we have to allow our awareness to flow freely from one experience of the present moment to the next.

5. Be aware of your awareness

The most natural and effortless experience of mindfulness meditation is when we are simply noticing where out awareness happens to be in each moment. In this experience we realise that it is impossible not to be present as every experience that we could possibly have can only happen here and now. This is an effortless state of being where we feel we could remain in this experience forever.

But remember not to have expectations that this will or should happen, which takes us back to point 1.

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