Present moment awareness is being present with your own consciousness, in the living moment called now. Not ‘a second ago’, or ‘in a second’. Now. You are alive, and you acknowledge that. You are breathing, and you acknowledge that. You are aware of yourself right now without the distraction of past and future thoughts or emotional discomfort. And with that kind of stillness you notice things you may not have noticed from a distracted frame of mind. It is this aspect of meditation that changes your life based on the simple fact that clarity of mind leads to better choices… something that everyone can benefit from.

Meditation is the art of cultivating present moment awareness. And it must be cultivated by committing to one of the sitting-based meditation practices that allow for deep stillness to be experienced. The more you practice over time, the more you learn to sustain present moment awareness, and the more you naturally bring that stillness and presence of mind into your daily life.

How much are you living and experiencing the present moment when you are engaged in every day activities and interactions with others? Do you seek to really listen to someone with your full attention when he or she is speaking to you? Similarly, are you giving your full attention to the various tasks you do each day at work or at home, and produce your best work? Or, do you give priorities to other thoughts not even realising that you are preoccupied in re-living past experiences or flustered by thoughts about the future, that don't even exist.

There are two main types of sitting meditation practice and each focuses the mind in a different way. The first type involves concentration, that is, you place your focused attention on an object, phrase, sound or image, and in the act of repetition and directed focus, experience a kind of ‘oneness’ with it, and a distinct clarity of mind. For example, if you are repeating a sound-phrase or mantra, the repetition of it soon requires no real effort and becomes automatic. You then rest in a meditative state that is very different from your normal waking state.

The second form of sitting practice involves receptivity, also called mindfulness meditation. This is where you gently rest your attention on your breathing in an unfixed way while acknowledging outer distractions in the moment and letting them go. For example, in mindfulness meditation you sit down and begin noticing your breathing, and when a thought comes to mind, you simply acknowledge it and let it go. The same thing applies when you hear a sound in the environment or have a sensation in your body, simply acknowledge it and let it go. In this way, you allow all objects of your attention to exist while remaining fully aware of your consciousness in the moment.

One of the greatest deterrents to learning meditation is coming into command of your thoughts. It truly is a skill and for that you need regular, consistent practice. The good news is that when you learn how to do it, and break through those initial barriers of resistance, it becomes much easier to go to that still place at will. Over time, that still place you experience in the sitting meditation practice begins to transform your personality. You become less reactive and more observant, and this leads to better choices, accelerated healing in the body, and an overall feeling of well being as you learn to roll with life, instead of fighting it.

I learned to meditate 13 years ago using brainwave synchronization technology which uses sound frequencies to lower your brainwave frequency into a meditative state that naturally has less mental-level activity. It works by sending one frequency into one ear, and a different frequency into the other (with headphones on) while the brain registers the difference as a ‘beat’, or ‘binaural beat’ as it is called. My meditation CD Luminosity One incorporates these brainwave frequencies to help you learn to meditate.

Author's Bio: 

Jain Wells, PhD is a transpersonal psychologist who teaches self-development workshops and meditation classes. She is the author of Meditation: The Incredible Gateway to An Abundant Life, and Luminosity One meditation brainwave-synchronization 2CD set. Available at Amazon and iTunes.