Meditation is something we’ve all heard about and it seems to be more prominent in the news than ever before, especially something called “mindfulness meditation,” which is commonly defined as having a heightened awareness of your experiences in the moment and non-judgmental self examination.

Okay, that all sounds well and good. But how do we go about doing that?

Let’s follow Gary’s story to see how one man’s life was transformed by mindfulness meditation. In fact, Gary says it was a “major, major transformation.” Gary is a recovered addict who turned to drinking, partying, and drugs to fill a gap in his life created by his decision to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses at age eighteen. As happens to most addicts, Gary’s hard living eventually got the best of him and he hit rock bottom. He needed to turn his life around, but didn’t know how.  Since he is an atheist, he didn’t feel that groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, which invoke a higher power in their rehabilitation programs, would be right for him. He experimented with a number of secular groups until trying a Buddhist meditation center.

“Sitting there” was when “everything started coming together” for Gary. When you sit in a quiet place for fifteen minutes (at least) a day in a group or by yourself, you focus on your breathing. The mindfulness part of meditation comes in when your thoughts start wandering and you train yourself to merely observe your thoughts or feelings and not become frustrated with your lack of focus. With practice, you won’t get caught up in your thoughts either and will bring your focus back to your breathing. When Gary began meditating, he became aware of the patterns of his own thoughts, the anger, fear, and resentment that his mind had been trying to push away for years. He used substances to help distract himself from these emotions, but now with mindfulness meditation, he had gained the strength to face and deal with his painful emotions, and then learned to let them go.


Read the entire article here: How Meditation Works