All the Basics:
Mindfulness Meditation is an adaption from traditional Buddhist meditation practices, such as Vipassana. It also has influence from a number of other lineages, such as the Vietnamese Zen Buddhism from Thich Nhat Nanh.
The word "mindfulness" itself comes from the Buddhist term "sati."
Anapansati or the "mindfulness of breathing," is a stable for various forms of meditation around the world, such as Vipassana (insight meditation) and zazen.
As a technique, it is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are. Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. It teaches us how to be unconditionally present, helping us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is (Psychology Today).
How to Perform the Meditation:
Begin by taking a seat on a cushion, couch or the floor. Create a straight but not rigid spine. For this practice, the eyes are slightly open and gaze comes to the floor. Sit for a few minutes. Begin to pay attention to the breath. Notice your inhales and exhales. When you get distracted, keep bringing your attention back to the breath. Practice this meditation from 10 minutes (as a beginner) to around an hour.
You can also practice mindfulness meditation in eating, walking or virtually any everyday activity by acting mindfully and coming back to the breath.
Mantra, Sound or Visualization:
For this meditation, just keep your focus on your breath.
Origin + History:
While Mindfulness Meditation comes from a variety of different meditation techniques from throughout the East, one of its main influencers in the West is John Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which has been used in several hospitals and health clinics over the past few decades.
Kabat-Zinn was a student of a variety of notable Buddhist teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga, combined with his Buddhist studies allowed him to combine science with the ancient techniques.
It's said that Mindfulness Meditation can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. Click for more.
Photo Cred: Alice Popkorn