Ok maybe I didn’t do it ‘wrong,’ and the way I was doing it was just part of the learning process. However, once I understood the distinction between what I was doing and what I perhaps intended to do, it made a big difference in my practice.
Breathing - After years of using the breath to calm myself by extending the exhale (something I learned in yoga), I found that it influenced my mindfulness practice.
Each time I tried to pay attention to the breath I was changing it.
I would inhale or exhale more deeply rather than just observing the breath that already existed. The practice of using your breath as a tool is useful but by relaxing my focus on the flow of existing breath, I found a sense of ease come into my practice along with a level of observation rather than control. Creating this awareness shifted my practice from doing to truly observing the present moment.
Body Scan – during a body scan I was ‘thinking’ about the body part, rather than feeling’ the body part. There probably are many of you out there who, like me when I first started, are wondering what the difference is. I had to play with it for quite awhile,
I would ‘think’ about my foot rather than 'feel' my foot.
One tool that helped me become more aware of the felt sensation was literally touching the part I was scanning. The sensation from my hand to my foot helped me bring my awareness to the felt sense rather than just bringing mental awareness to my foot. Over time I no longer needed to bring my hand there, but could just feel my foot. Play with it and see what distinction you come up with.
Try this Breath Awareness practice.
Please feel free to share any challenges you have found in beginning meditation and/or share tips and tricks you have learned in your exploration.