When it comes to mindfulness meditation, there’s no “right way” or “wrong way” to approach the practice. Various traditions throughout history have taken different approaches to helping the mind relax and cease its constant grasping at thought.
A common Zen Buddhist meditative practice involves counting the breath. As you breathe in, you simply pay attention to the sensation of the breath as it fills your nostrils and lungs; and, as you breathe out, you following the sensation of what it feels like as your breath leaves your body. At the end of your exhalation, you count “one” silently to yourself. This continues indefinitely, counting “two,” “three,” and so on with each breath.
Other meditative traditions utilize various meditation exercises to help practitioners gradually still and quiet the “monkey mind,” a term given to the restless, unfocused, chaotic mental energy that all too often characterizes our thought patterns. This mental energy is so preoccupied with staying busy — with always distracting itself with yet another thought — that it finds the task of simply quieting and ceasing to think a near impossible feat.
Some traditions will use chants and mantras to help students relax, let go, and calm the monkey mind. These include things such as the Hindu “om,” the Islamic repetition of the invocation of the name of Allah, and the Pure Land Buddhist chanting of Amita Buddha. Still, other traditions use external sounds — such as gongs, bells, and singing bowls — to quiet the mind.
This free recording of beautiful water sounds is intended to serve the same purpose. By listening to this recording, you’ll find it easier to relax and let go of thought. Focus your attention on the sound of the water itself. Don’t attempt to analyze the sound: simply allow your mind to acknowledge and appreciate the sound for what it is. In the process, you’ll slowly feel the monkey mind begin to come to rest.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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