Mindfulness meditation emphasizes acceptance of and compassion for whatever we experience. It is a useful practice for almost anyone, but especially for someone who is inclined to be harsh and critical toward herself or himself.
The details of mindfulness technique vary all over the map, but all of them teach us to be aware of what we are experiencing in the moment, and to allow it to BE, without criticism.
This is our preferred approach:
- Arrange a reasonably quiet environment to help you acquire the skills needed to practice mindfulness. (Later you can practice in any environment).
- You can practice while sitting or lying down.
- Fix your attention on the rising and falling of the abdomen as you breathe in and out. You can inwardly say to yourself “rising” as you inhale and “falling” as you exhale. Your attention should be directed at the rising and falling of the abdomen and not on the breathing itself.
- Each time your attention strays you should make a mental note of it, and then gently but firmly return your attention to the rising and falling of your abdomen.
- If extraneous thoughts come to you, categorize them by naming them. For example you could use the labels “worrying”, “imagining”, “remembering”, or simply “wandering”.
- If a distraction keeps coming back, you should shift your attention to that distraction and use it as the object of contemplation instead of using the rising and falling.
It’s that simple. Just attend to what is present in each moment and learn to be uncritically accepting of whatever experience presents itself.