Understanding why and how meditation works becomes very important, as sometimes it can sometimes seem very mystical. It doesn’t matter if you are starting to learn meditation or are already an advanced practitioner, many times one has doubts regarding the practice in their meditation journey. Idanim recently conducted a 1-hour masterclass with one of our experts Toby Ouvry, on the fundamentals of mindfulness practices. It helped people discover how to harness their senses, mind, and consciousness to live in the present moment for heightened awareness and controlled thoughts.
Below are a few questions that our attendees had asked during the class and their responses by Toby Ouvry, mindfulness coach at INSEAD Business School, Singapore.
How to stay mindful and calm in times of distress, injury, or loss?
There is a US navy saying, “In times of stress, we sing to the level of our training.” This means the time taken to train for extremes in life, such as distress/injury/loss, will enable you to remain calm when difficult times come. So if you have prepared yourself or regulated yourself, at a higher degree or at least at an intermediate degree of this competence, then you will find your mindfulness practice helpful when these difficult times come. It might be overwhelming if you try to do mindfulness in times of distress without having done any training beforehand.
How to manage anxiety with meditation?
There are two ways. Firstly, take care of the part where you are feeling anxious. Extend care, understanding, and compassion to the part of you so that it does not feel alone or isolated. Secondly, stay proactive towards constructive and positive thinking so that you are not allowing yourself to create anxiety around the entire situation. Think about the things that are good in this situation, keep coming up with solutions, and something that empowers you to exert some benevolent control when you are anxious.
How to get focused and concentrate on things?
Good quality mindful concentration has two aspects: The capacity to be focused single-pointedly on the object. The second is to be relaxed. It is a 50-50 combination of being focused and relaxed. You have to train to get a sense of that. Many people in meditation practice try too hard to focus and not quite enough to relax. So it is like riding a bike. If you lean too far to the left, you fall left. If you lean too far to the right, you fall right. Too much focus does not allow the mind to relax. Vice versa, you tend to lose the object by getting distracted or gaining sleep. So the art of good concentration is the art of combining focus and relaxation in a single flow. If relaxation is at 0 and absolute focus and attention is at 10, you should prefer a four or a six. That should give you a good quality focus and concentration that you can sustain.
In the long run, does meditation help improve intuitions and analysis?
If you are doing meditation in a balanced manner - yes, it should. One aspect of meditation is bringing us into contact with reality as it is. You can step back, notice, and observe your internal and external experiences with a reasonable degree of objectivity and rationality. This essential quality we develop in meditation comes along with the rational and analytical capacity. The relaxation that comes with observation also helps our intuitive self get active. Our intuitive self is the part that can make multiple evaluations, whereas the logical and rational mind cannot make possible evaluations or judgments. Intuition is explicit knowledge coming from the unconscious or intuitive sense to create multiple analyses that transcend the intuition mind. Stepping back and processing comes with basic meditation to access our intuition. It also helps us to listen to the signals that our intuition gives us, see more clearly, to trust them, and our intuitive self to grow in strength, so that you can make several evaluations in a single moment. Everybody has it to a degree, but we can develop it through this meditation practice.
How to make meditation a daily practice?
You need to structure it, and you need to establish a specific time daily and practice meditation at the same time. One more thing which is essential is that you need to decide the reason you are meditating. Since different meditations have different results, you need to figure out what you are expecting out of a certain meditation. For example, certain meditations on gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion help you bring energy and positivity. There might be other meditations that will help you with focusing, like single-pointedness. So it would be best to consider what practices will best suit your meditation objectives and practice them consistently.
How to avoid distractions in mind?
Your primary meditation state is to be present in the moment, not be lost in thoughts, and not fall asleep. Meditation does not mean there are no thoughts or distractions. There always will be, but choose to stay in the present moment. The particular skill that would help here is to select your specific anchor and use that to build stability in the present moment and not get distracted by the noises around you. This will help you build stability and attention during meditation.
Please suggest diet for best meditation experience
Different diets will give you a different meditation experience. A typical example of this is there are some Indian forms of meditation that give the best results with vegetarian diets. Certain meditation practices are done best with a bit of consumption of meat. Find a balanced diet that works for you and helps to maintain a physiological equilibrium. There aren’t any rules since not everyone can have the same metabolism. The obvious things to avoid would be too much caffeine, sugar, simple carbs, or artificial food.
How to let go of attachment to material things?
First, you need to reflect upon the material things you are attached to and limit yourself and the pleasures those are providing you. Try finding a deeper level of things that give meaning to your life instead of just attaching to material things that give you superficial pleasure and replacing them with actual things that give you real joy and meaning. It becomes easier to let go of material things when you have a meaningful life to look forward to. So it is essential to realize the proper place of material things and understand their limitations.
During the class, our expert Toby Ouvry answered a few queries. If you want to hear them, watch the video below:
Hope these answers will be helpful to you in incorporating mindfulness into your lives. Stay tuned for the recorded video and the key takeaways from this masterclass. Download Idanim on Play Store and App Store to practice mindfulness and meditation.