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Meditation: Spring Cleaning for Your Mind

I have written a lot about spring cleaning lately, and one way to think about meditation is that it is a little dose of spring cleaning for the mind. It's an attempt to clear the mind of clutter at least for a few moments.

Meditation involves concentrating on a single thought, word, image or movement and is a great way to reduce stress. Essentially you are trying to strengthen the relationship between your mind and body. How sweet. The goal is to quiet your mind by focusing on the moment, instead of your worries and stress.

So where to begin? I have always found it best to focus on my breath. So find a comfortable and quiet place to sit, I find it too tempting to fall asleep if I meditate lying down. Then focus on different aspects of your breath. How it sounds and how it feels.

I have heard meditation explained like this:

Your mind is a puppy that is getting paper trained/housebroken and the paper is the act of meditation. As your mind, the puppy, wanders off the paper you gently steer it back to the paper, which is your breath and meditation practice. Just as you wouldn't be harsh with a puppy learning where to "go," you shouldn't be harsh on yourself if your mind wanders. After all that is what the mind does.

Set an alarm for 5 or 10 minutes and meditate until the alarm goes off. No cheating or peeking. Just sit and just be - which is really difficult and oddly refreshing. It may feel like an eternity, but it will soon get easier to focus your mind. Practice in this case doesn't make perfect, but makes one simply more self aware.

Shambala Centers offer classes on meditation in the Buddhist tradition. You can find centers listed by state on their website.

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