“Peace comes from within, do not seek it without.” -— Buddha
The beauty of life is its unpredictability and spontaneity. Even with the most well-thought-out plans and deliberate actions, you can never be sure of what’s going to happen next. This makes it exciting and scary at the same time. Unfortunately, with such unpredictability also comes challenges. These may include financial struggles, health problems, and even loss of loved ones.
One thing that’s certain is that challenges are a part of life that come and go, and you have the capacity to overcome each. However, it does not just happen automatically and takes time and deliberate and consistent effort.
Navigating grief or overcoming other challenges requires a way to help you cope and release the energy weighing you down. For most people, their go-to stress relief methods are exercising, doing yoga, talking to a trusted friend, or partaking in hobbies. For others, it’s mindfulness meditation.
What is Mindfulness?
It’s not uncommon to find yourself engrossed by things that happened in the past or by the chores and plans you have for the future. This focus on the past or future often leads to neglecting your present needs, affecting your psychological and emotional state.
Mindfulness refers to a mental state in which you are fully focused on the present, where you are, and what you are doing. It allows you to become more aware and accept your emotions, thoughts and sensations without self-judgment. By achieving such a state, the things around you will not be overwhelming, and your responses less reactive.
To fully experience meditation’s refreshing benefits in an elevated way, daily practice is necessary. In essence, the goal is to focus on your senses to bring more awareness to your emotions and state of mind.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a form of mental training that involves slowing down your thoughts and letting go of negativity. It brings about mental and physical relaxation, giving you more control over your thoughts, emotions and actions.
There can be variations to the techniques used for mindfulness meditation, but a focus on breathing is common in all. Research on mindfulness meditation suggests that it can reduce stress and anxiety, improve memory and attention, and increase self-regulation and empathy.
The good thing with mindfulness is that you do not require any equipment. A judgment-free mindset and a quiet place to sit for about five minutes are enough. Depending on your personality and preference, you can also use essential oils, candles, and some mantras for motivation.
How to Start Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
Though there are programs for this, mindfulness is easy enough to begin on your own. With the right mindset and openness to try something a bit unorthodox, you can unlock your greatest potential. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Dedicate Time for Meditation
One of the good things about meditation is that it does not require a lot of time. Paradoxically, this is also one of its main challenges. It’s easy to assume that you can’t spare five or 10 minutes a day for meditation and find yourself going days without meditation. This is because such an approach makes it easy to reschedule it for later.
With busy and demanding personal and professional lives, the best way to ensure you get your daily dose of rejuvenation is by scheduling it. Assess your daily routine and determine the best time you can slot in a meditation session. Take it as an appointment that you cannot miss, and if you do, don’t beat yourself up too much and wait for the following day.
2. Choose a Comfortable and Quiet Place
Mindfulness meditation is all about eliminating all external stimuli and getting in touch with your mental and emotional state. To achieve this, you need a conducive environment that’s quiet and comfortable. It does not have to be somewhere isolated.
You can do it on a chair or even the floor. Ensure you have comfortable clothing on and keep your head, neck, and back straight without stiffening them.
3. Use a Timer
In the short meditation session, it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of time, causing you to end it prematurely. Thinking about how long you have left is also a distraction in itself. Though not necessary, you can reduce such distractions and ensure you meditate for the desired time by using a timer. Since you will be awake and in a calm state, you only need something with a gentle alarm.
4. Pay Attention to Your Breathing
One of the key elements of achieving a trance-like meditation state is tuning in and steadying your breathing. Focus on each inhalation and exhalation, the rising and falling of your chest. Inhale with your nose and exhale with your mouth. Feel the air as it enters your nostrils and the physical sensations of the air moving through your body. Try and notice the difference with each breath.
5. Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
During meditation, you want to empty your mind and let it run free. If you have a lot of things weighing on you, they may creep up at that time. If they do, remember that meditation is not about self-judgment. Focus on your breathing and see where the thoughts go as you try to refocus on the present.
6. Try a Meditation App
Depending on your schedule and other circumstances, you may find it difficult to practice mindfulness meditation. If so, there are apps that offer free meditations and numerous tools to help you achieve the mindfulness state throughout the day.
Make Mindfulness a Lifestyle
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to help you achieve a calm and productive state. One of the mistakes that people make is to assume that mindfulness is a preserve for your meditation sessions. As you gain more control of your ability to focus on the present, try bringing it to other aspects of your life. Take a minute when you are seated at your office desk or relaxing on the sofa to get in touch with the moment.
You will notice that there are many opportunities during your everyday activities to practice mindfulness. All you need is a brief moment to focus all your attention on what you are doing. If you make this a habit, you will have richer and more fulfilling experiences.
Areas in your everyday life where you can incorporate mindfulness meditation:
- Doing chores – Do you find chores tedious? You can make the most out of it and finish doing dishes or laundry without realizing it by focusing on being present. As you wash the dishes, notice the bubbles, sounds of utensils, and the warm water flowing on your hands. With laundry, pay attention to how the fabric feels on your skin and the scent of detergent on clean clothes.
- Brushing – As you brush, pay attention to the movement of your arm, the brush in your hand, and how the floor beneath you feels.
- Exercising – If you like working out, there’s no better time for you to practice mindfulness meditation. While on the treadmill, pay attention to your breathing and feel your feet moving. When lifting weights, focus on the muscle groups you are targeting and note the sensations.
How Does Mindfulness Meditation Benefit You?
Other than enabling you to overcome challenges and boosting productivity, mindfulness meditation has a wide range of benefits that boost your health:
- Better sleep
- Reduces stress levels
- Helps manage chronic pain
- Reduces anxiety
- Prevents depression relapse
- Increases the gray matter in your brain
- Improves memory and attention
- Helps banish negative feelings
Is Mindfulness Meditation Worth It?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that mindfulness meditation is for people struggling with issues. Though it does help in such situations, it offers a lot more and is beneficial to everyone. By enhancing aspects such as attention and memory whilst reducing anxiety and enabling you to sleep better, it not only boosts your health but can help you become more productive.
Feeling overwhelmed by creating your own routine? Not sure where to start? Schedule a consultation with me today and we can find one that works for you.