Even if you are somewhat experienced meditating, I recommend using all of the Primary Level exercises at least a couple of times before you move into the Secondary Level exercises. There are a number of reasons for this suggestion.
Reasons to Use the Primary Level Exercises Before Starting the Secondary Level
First, by using the Primary Level exercises, you will become accustomed to the sound technology for getting into a very deep, relaxed state. Depending on how much meditation experience you have, you may not have been able to achieve the deep meditative states you should be able to achieve using the Legally Mindful relaxation exercises. The very basic “mind awake, body asleep” state is very important for you to experience and get comfortable with before you move on to the Secondary Level exercises. In this state, you should have very little, if any, awareness of your physical body, but your mind will be awake and aware. Your mind’s focus will not depend on external stimuli, but you will have an entirely “internal” focus. This state can be difficult to explain and must be experienced to be understood, but it forms the foundation for further work with the Legally Mindful exercises.
Second, you will get used to some of the concepts I use in the Primary Level to prepare you for more productive use of the Secondary Level exercises. For example, in the Heart-Based Gratitude and Compassion exercise, you will focus on the energy around your heart while you experience gratitude and compassion for yourself and others. This exercise helps you achieve an active, relaxed mind, rather than the passive mind most meditation practices foster, i.e., the absence of conscious thought. You can read more on this concept below. In addition, learning to feel and concentrate on your heart-based energy will be important for the Health and Well Being/Body Scan Exercise in the Secondary Level.
Third, the Concentration exercise is meant to be listened to while you are working. As a result, you gain experience getting into what should be a higher concentration state while your eyes are open and your mind is active, whether you are reading, writing, or “just” thinking. I have found that listening to the Concentration exercise while working helped me get back to this “more productive” state when I am not listening to the exercise. As you may have noticed, one of the main goals of Legally Mindful is to allow you to achieve a highly productive mental state without being connected to an exercise while you are working. You can read more about how I’ve been able to achieve this state in my blog post, A Simplified Discussion about Brain Waves and the SAM Sound Technology, Part 1.
Finally, each of the Primary Level exercises is a good stand-alone exercise that will continue to be useful to you as you gain more experience with the other exercises. I continue to use each of these exercises because each provides different benefits on an on-going basis.
A Different Meditation Experience
If you have meditated before, you likely understand some of the basic concepts of mindfulness – focusing on your breath to stay in the present moment and allowing your random thoughts to flow through you without judgment. When I use the Legally Mindful exercises, once I get in a deep meditative state, I do not need to concentrate on following my breath quite as much unless I lose focus and need to get back to the exercise. My experience with the sound technology allows me to have confidence that it will take no effort on my part to return to that very relaxed state. This freedom allows me to enjoy and really experience that very relaxed feeling without worrying about losing that very relaxed mental state. Also, as sometimes happens, I will get an itch or hear a noise or have another type of distraction. I can tend to that itch or allow the other distraction to simply fade away from my awareness, and with the sound technology, typically I can get back to that very relaxed state easily. I no longer have to worry that a small itch or another distraction will ruin or detract from my overall meditation experience.
Because the sound technology helps you maintain a very relaxed, meditative state, you are able to be more “active” during these Legally Mindful exercises without fear that you will lose that relaxed state. For example, in the Relax and Release exercise, you are guided through a very brief body scan where you notice how different parts of your body feel. You then relax into a deeper meditative state and just allow your body to release the stress that has built up in your body. The more you listen to the relaxation exercises, the easier it will be to simply release stress and get into a fairly relaxed state. This is especially helpful during or after a stressful meeting, or anytime you feel a buildup of stress in your body.
In the same vein, the Heart-Based Gratitude and Compassion exercise requires an active, relaxed mind. Focusing on gratitude and compassion has been shown to help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Everyone will have a different experience using this exercise and no two experiences will be the same. I think this is one of the most important Legally Mindful exercises for people trying to achieve perspective in balancing work and their personal lives. It also helps prepare you for the more active Secondary Level exercises.
In a future blog post, I will discuss the Secondary Level exercises in some detail, including my thoughts in writing them the way I did. In my opinion, these exercises set Legally Mindful apart from other commercially-available mediation approaches.