Here is a brilliant summary of a meditation session. It comes from Dan Harris’ (ABC News correspondent) brilliant book, 10% Happier.
“Sit comfortably. You don’t have to twist yourself into a cross-legged position—unless you want to, of course. You can just sit in a chair. (You can also stand up or lie down, although the latter can sometimes result in an unintentional nap.) Whatever your position, you should keep your spine straight, but don’t strain. Feel your breath. Pick a spot: nose, belly, or chest. Really try to feel the in-breath and then the out-breath. This one is the key: Every time you get lost in thought—which you will, thousands of times—gently return to the breath. I cannot stress strongly enough that forgiving yourself and starting over is the whole game. As my friend and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg has written, “Beginning again and again is the actual practice, not a problem to overcome.”
He goes on to give a running commentary of what the voice in his head is saying to him during one of his meditation sessions, listen to this:
See? It is just like “normal” life, except with awareness, detached witnessing. That is what changes everything.
As you can see, meditation and mindfulness is about noticing, witnessing the thought-stream, the emotion-stream.
Usually, we walk around and do things “blindly”, meaning that we are unaware of our deepest motives and machinery. Thoughts flood into our mind and we think they are “my” thoughts, and we just do and feel as they say, like robots in a trance. We usually resist “what is”, or we identify with it unquestioningly.
Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating self-awareness. It is the opposite of resistance and blind identification.
It is not about controlling or eliminating anything.
It is about acceptance of “what is” in the moment, coupled with detached awareness, simple witnessing. And when you “fail” at that, when you find yourself yet again in resistance mode or in blind identification with your thought-stream, you also accept that “failure”. Even the “failure” itself is part of the practice of learning to witness.
The meditation practice itself will, over time, do its own magic of self-transformation and liberation behind the scenes. Your job is not to “make it” – it makes itself. Your job is just to witness.
Mindfulness works the same way, except that you are bringing awareness, witnessing, to your daily activities and the thoughts and emotions that happen as you carry on with those daily activities.
Meditation and mindfulness are similar in that they both are about witnessing.
The only significant difference is that with meditation, you are in a peaceful place with no distractions from the world’s activities, whereas in mindfulness you are doing the same thing WHILE engaged in the world’s activities.
Besides that, they are pretty much the same thing, mindfulness and meditation.
Stages of Mindfulness (And Meditation) Mastery
At the beginning, you will likely be dealing with crude and rough thoughts and sensations. Like anger, fear, sadness, drama. Your thoughts and emotions may come crashing in like a wild elephant, a wild monkey, running amok inside you. Even nonsensical thoughts like wondering why the dog hates the cat so much, may all come tumbling in as you practice mindfulness and meditation.
That may go on for some time. And as you carry on your practice, you will notice a change.
The crude, rough activity will subside, and you will be left with subtle activity. The clinging lessens, the shenpa lessens.
And that may go on for some time. And as you carry on your practice, you will notice another change. The subtle activity has subsided, and you will now be left with very, very subtle activity. The clinging has almost stopped completely. You feel free, spacious, at peace.
You will become Unfuckwithable.
You will have started to see your true being.
And as you carry on your practice, you will notice another change.
One day, you enter the stream. In “no mind”, you enter infinity.
Tibetan Buddhists demonstrate this progress with this rather very fitting image (start at the bottom and work your way up, noticing how the elephant, the fire and the monkey are initially wild, and eventually they transform):
That was a sample taken from the course, Radical Mindfulness Made Simple in 5 Easy Steps.