As you know, mindfulness meditation is sweeping the nation, and for good reasons. Research over the last 20 years has confirmed many of the health benefits to the body and mind. Scientists have found that it can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and significantly lower the risk of heart disease. It also can help strengthen the immune system, improve mental health, and even slow the aging process.
However, there are still some misconceptions about the practice, and beginners are having a hard time getting started and staying committed. And if you don't use the proper techniques, then you won't realize the benefits that mindfulness meditation has to offer.
The whole purpose of mindfulness meditation is to develop mindfulness, or awareness, so that you can understand the true nature of reality. By developing greater awareness, you can see how your thoughts and actions impact your life. This will enable you to make better decisions -- decisions that lead to greater peace and harmony in yourself and your relationships.
The 12 Steps of the Mindfulness Meditation Practice is a new and unique approach to learning mindfulness meditation. The 12 Steps will guide you through the practice in a simple step-by-step process, so you can get started quickly and achieve immediate results, and continue making steady progress. They are designed to help you stay engaged and motivated, so you can make mindfulness a way of life. Here is an overview of the 12 Steps:
Step 1 -- "We became aware of the pain and suffering created by unmindful thoughts, speech, and actions." Step 1 teaches you some important concepts to help you understand the practice. In this step, we'll talk about the Four Noble Truths, which deal with suffering and how to overcome it. We will also talk about the Five Hindrances, which deal with things that get in the way of your meditation and spiritual development.
Step 2 -- "We learned how to develop our primary tools of observation: concentration and mindfulness." Here you will learn how to use your two most important tools of observation. If we want to understand ourselves, and our relationships with others, then we need to learn how to observe the world with unbiased clarity.
We often make quick judgments based on preconceived ideas, because it's easier than examining situations further, and often less painful in the short-run. That is, we jump to conclusions without having many of the facts. So, to observe reality without bias, we need to develop our skills of observation. Like a journalist, we're trying to get at the truth.
Step 3 -- "We sought to eliminate the things that agitate our mind, and prevent us from achieving inner peace and serenity." A common challenge for beginners is dealing with a racing mind. We're often unaware that many of our daily activities are agitating our mind. In this step, I'll show you how to identify and eliminate the sources of agitation. I'll also give you some effective tools for calming your mind.
Step 4 -- "We learned how to structure our meditation session for maximum effectiveness, and to fit our lifestyle." In Step 4, we discuss our meditation environment. There is no best time or place that applies to everyone, because we all have different commitments and living situations. I'll give you some guidelines for choosing the best time and place for you. We'll also talk about sitting position and how long to meditate.
Step 5 -- "In order to enhance our spiritual evolution, we made mindfulness meditation a regular practice." This step deals with the actual mechanics of meditation. You'll learn exactly what to do during your meditation sessions. I'll give you different formats, so you can choose the one that's most suitable for your needs, and I will even guide you through a typical meditation session.
Step 6 -- "We remained vigilant in our meditation practice, so that we continued making steady progress." In Step 6, you'll learn how to track your progress by keeping a meditation journal. This will help you stay grounded in proper techniques by establishing goals and measuring your progress. It will also help you stay motivated.
Step 7 -- "We became aware that other people can provide us with the spiritual nourishment vital to our development." Other people can be invaluable sources of spiritual nourishment that will dramatically speed up your development. I will show you how to connect with them, so that you not only enhance your own spiritual development, but also that of others.
Step 8 -- "We sought to cultivate peace and harmony in our relationships and interactions with others by practicing deep listening, mindful speech, non-judging, and forgiveness." In this step, we'll examine how our behavior impacts our spiritual development and our relationships, and I'll share with you some powerful tools for improving them.
Step 9 -- "We sought to dwell deeply in our spiritual community in order to enhance our development, and that of others." In Step 9, I'll show you how to avail yourself of the healing power of your spiritual community. I will introduce you to some more useful tools for enhancing your practice, including loving-kindness meditation, and a new meditation technique we've developed--writing meditation. You will also learn about the most powerful tool of all--the mindfulness meditation retreat.
Step 10 -- "We became aware of how unmindful consumption perpetuates our suffering, and prevents us from achieving true inner peace." In this step, we'll discuss how your consumption of nutrients and other substances can either enhance or hinder your spiritual development. As you progress in your practice, you'll develop the wisdom and inner strength to make healthier choices.
Step 11 -- "With the strength, courage, and mindfulness we attained through our meditation practice, we confronted and overcame the wounds from our past." Many of us have wounds from long ago that have never healed. These are serious obstacles to our development. In Step 11, I will show you how to use your emerging mindfulness to overcome them, so you can be free of them once and for all.
Step 12 -- "Having found freedom from our suffering through mindfulness meditation, we shared this practice with others, and continued dwelling deeply in the present moment through mindful living." One of the great gifts you will receive from your practice is a deep sense of caring and compassion for other people. In this step, you'll learn how to help others achieve inner peace as you have, and how your mindful leadership can help create a more mindful society. You'll also learn how to apply mindfulness to all your daily activities, so that you continue making progress.
Whether you are new to meditation, or already have some experience, the 12 Steps of the Mindfulness Meditation Practice will help you get the most from your practice. By keeping you engaged and motivated, you can realize better health, and shorten your path to the inner peace and happiness you're looking for.
Best wishes on your life journey!