Friday, January 7, 2011

First steps into mindfulness

To tame my ever-wandering mind and try to find focus and concentration, I've decided to try out mindfulness and meditation.

In the PhD course which I am currently attending, every session involves a mindfulness exercise. Initially I was a bit surprised to find mindfulness to be part of a course for PhD students, but now all the participants of this course agree that they look forward to the guided mindfulness sessions in the course.

Outside of this course, I have never practiced mindfulness. Today, I decided to look on-line for a guided mindfulness exercise. I came across this exercise and enjoyed it very much.

Since this is the first time I practice such an exercise with guided audio, I've noticed a few differences between this and a guided exercise in a group setting. I need to practice more, but I am inclined to think that solitary exercises suit me more. This, however, is completely my personal experience and I am sure many people benefit from mindfulness and meditation courses offered by skilled instructors.

The observations I made are the following:

- My thinking, now while I am writing this post, is much clearer. I did not navigate away from this site yet to go and click around on other websites, even though I see new Twitter and Facebook alerts.

- I have a cold, and I could clearly feel how this impairs my breathing. I'd like to think that it's just a cold and can work through like normal, but with my body doing a little bit more effort with every breath I take, I realize I should take it easy the coming weekend and focus on conquering this cold.

- The position of my head and shoulders mattered. Hanging shoulders and a hanging head made my breathing speed up and feel less free. I clearly felt how much better my body and breathing feels when I sit up straight, with straight shoulders and my head upright and proud. While I sometimes go into a position with hanging shoulders and a curved back to "relax" or show my respect/inferiority to another person, it feels as if my natural relaxed position is upright and proud of myself.

- I need to practice more to get my thoughts under control. However, I am hoping that regular practice (I am scheduling time for this in my planner), will result in a clearer mind.

My next planned session is scheduled for Sunday, and I hope I will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this exercise.


  1. Thanks for this reassuring post. I am also trying to practice a little mindfulness meditation each morning using Jon Kabat Zinn CDs to guide me. I felt a little embarrassed to admit that to anyone at uni though!
    I am reading some philosophy at the moment which is relevant to, but not quite my core and comfortable subject of literacy education. I find my mind wanders all the time when I try to slog through the philosophers. I'm trying to gain more control over this brain malfunctioning & hope the meditation will assist.

  2. I wish you lots of success with the mindfulness practice.

    I can relate to your feeling slight embarrassment as some people might consider it too aetherial for a "real" scientist, but I've decided for myself that I don't really care what others might think of my practice - what really matters is that I find a way to regain my focus, and get some good work done.
    Hope you can find some encouragement in this :)

  3. Came across your blog while looking for study aids targeted for PhD students. Very insightful and definitely useful posts. Keep it up!


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