Mindfulness Meditation exercises that have an unusual twist.

Mindfulness meditation doesn't always require sitting.

Some of my favorite meditation techniques are done outside. These exercises can help you realize that mindfulness and meditation can happen at any time.

Meditation Exercises for daily mindfulness

The eye balancing exercise

Most people are unaware that your brain doesn't process information from each eye equally. Just as you have a dominant hand, you have a dominant eye. It’s easy to find out which is your dominant eye. Cover one eye with your palm, then the other. One view will look more like your normal daily view of life. You've found your dominant eye. (Mine is my right eye).

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While this doesn't seem like a mindfulness meditation, purposely working to strengthen your non-dominant eye definitely increases mindfulness. The opposite of mindfulness is carelessness. Humans, as all animals, are creatures of habit. That’s not a bad thing. Without habits no animal can survive. However, one negative aspect of habits is they tend to occur in our lives without much thought, without being mindful. Things that we think of as automatic, like our sight, fall into habits just like everything else but by accident. By purposely working to balance your eyesight, you have to become more mindful of what you’re seeing. This breaks perceptual habits and so, to me, qualifies as a meditation.

Right now, wherever and however you’re sitting,  put purposeful mental effort into using your non-dominant eye. Don’t try to balance the two, instead try to make your normally non-dominant eye predominate. Take note of the peripheral vision of your normally non-dominant eye. While you’re looking at your computer screen, start taking notice of what your brain is taking in out of the corner of your eye. Then start to bring your awareness to the peripheral vision of your normally dominant eye at the same time. At some point, you’ll begin to feel that your brain in taking in information equally from both eyes. Don’t you feel more mindful of your place in the room?

Mindfulness meditation can happen anywhere, even a New York sidewalk
One of my favorite ways to practice the eye balancing mindfulness meditation is walking along a busy city sidewalk. I’ll look forward into distance and focus on balancing the peripheral vision of both eyes. Habitual perceptive tendencies break up and I start seeing the area around me as it is, not as I've mindlessly been drifting through it.

Triangulating your place in space.

This is a great, unusual and rather esoteric mindfulness meditation. It’s an exercise my brother and I have been doing for a really long time. I can’t even remember how we first thought of it but it is an excellent exercise for breaking perceptual habits and coming to an understanding of where you really are in space. And by “space”, I mean SPACE, as in where you are in the solar system!

Moon Last Quarter
image courtesy of the Astro Bob blog.

This exercise is best done on a sunny day when you can see the a quarter or crescent moon during the day. Look at the moon and first, break the perceptual concept that the moon is a flat disk up in the sky. Mentally become aware that it is a HUGE globe of rock, 238,900 miles away. Your mind has a pretty good general idea of what a mile is. Now multiply that by 238,900! You can immediately start to “feel”, physically even, what the moon really is and how it relates to where you are on our planet.

Next, consciously call to your attention that the same side of the moon is always facing the earth. This will again help you recognize the relationship between the earth and the moon. Now become aware that the only reason you’re seeing light on part of the moon is that there is an remarkably larger body, the sun, very very far away, lighting that portion of the moon. Become aware that the sun is lighting up one entire half of the moon, but on this day we can’t see the full side of the moon that is being lit up by the sun.

Here’s the really hard and esoteric part of this mindfulness meditation. Now you want to look at the moon, using the face of the moon to relate the moon to you and using the lighted portion of the moon to relate the moon to the sun. You've now got your three points of triangulation: you, the moon and the sun. You've become aware of how each one individually relates to the other. You've completed the triangle. None of these things are in isolation anymore; they are related to each other. Now you have some understanding of where YOU are in the solar system.

Take these mindfulness meditation exercises and expand the concept.

Now that you have a stronger concept of using visual perception to break habitual thought patterns, you can take these same concepts and use them at all different times and situations. As you do the exercise, also become aware of your direction on the planet. In other words, become aware of north. When you're outside, realize that the sky above you is air. When you're at home at your desk, what's in the room behind you? In the room above you? These are simple mindfulness meditations free of any dogma or sect.

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