Meditation is the art of awareness and observation. By bringing the activity of your mind into alignment, meditation helps reduce mental and physical stress by cleansing your mind into a natural process of release.
When it comes to meditation, there are two main techniques that correspond with different aspects of this alert focus.
Open Monitoring Meditation
When you are awake and conscious, your mind is constantly flowing with activity. The thoughts that occupy your mind are like a stream of energy that moves in frequencies of slow and fast.
In open monitoring meditation, you are open to anything that is taking place in your thoughts, or that enters your awareness at any given time throughout your meditation session, or even throughout the moment to moment aspect of your daily life.
The activity taking place in your mind, the thoughts that arise, and anything else you might become aware of in your immediate surroundings are to be considered as a stream of sensory input that can be oserved and allowed to flow naturally. Nothing is to be avoided, and everything is to be left as is.
In meditation you are simply observing. Open monitoring means that you are aware of thoughts and feelings without the need to establish an attachment.
From here you are able to trace the activity of your thoughts in relation to your emotions and become aware of certain patterns. The key is to become aware of the details of your moment.
This stream of awareness is often referred to as mindfulness. With practice, you will notice that whatever comes to the surface of your mind will naturally pass.
This allows you to gain insight from a point of clarity, focus, perspective, and wisdom. This is a cleansing process, and the result is razor sharp focus and the ability to control the direction of your mind in a very fascinating way.
Focused Attention Meditation
Focused attention meditation is often considered an easier approach due to the clear intention that is being applied. This involves focusing on one thing and one thing only.
The focus point can be an object, an image, a sound, the breath, or even a sensation. It helps to draw attention to one particular thing.
There are so many things you can focus on; the idea is to pick the one with the strongest hold. This approach helps remove the distraction of other thoughts by pulling you back into the center of the moment, where the object of focus is always present.
To begin focused meditation, find a quiet place, sit in a good posture, and with your back straight — the same as many common meditation technique. Close your eyes and relax by taking deep breaths. Take however long you need to zone in on your focus point. Your meditation session can go anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.
You may find it difficult to focus for the entire time. Start small and work your way up; you will notice your ability to stay focused become much stronger with consistent practice. You can even break it up into smaller sessions, depending on how long you feel comfortable with.
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Differences and Benefits
In focused attention meditation, the focus of your mind is placed only on one thing. This implies that you have to stop everything you are doing and designate time for this type of meditation.
On the other hand in open monitoring meditation, your focus is neutral and receptive to anything that becomes present to you in the moment.This is where you can become creative in how you integrate this into your approach.
Open monitoring meditation will give you the opportunity to experience a divergent thought process. You can arrive at stable conclusions without deviation and doubt. You will be able to find creative ways of handling various problems.
This can be translated into sport, creative arts, business, or any other form of inspired activity that drives passion in your life. Your mind will become more adaptable and more flexible in various situations.
Both techniques are available to you, and may arise at different occasions to satisfy your needs.
These basic techniques will provide you with a powerful way to sharpen your focus and generate a healthy connection to your mind. The results of a clear mind and liberation of limiting thought patterns are very much worth the practice–not to mention the fact that it just feels good to have a stable mindset.
In this episode of the MBV Podcast, we discuss how mindfulness can be incorporated into everyday situations as an amazing way to strengthen your meditation practice: