We wake up thinking about our daily tasks, help our kids get ready for school while at the same time reading the news on our phones and drinking our morning coffee. On the way to work we check our emails. On the way back, we jot down the grocery list. Being back home, we start planning the next day. We don’t notice the night. We don’t remember falling asleep and with the sound of the alarm, a new day starts, and we are in repeat mode.
Do we feel rested in the morning? Did we say hello to the cashier at the supermarket? Was it sunny today? It’s hard to answer these questions because we do many things unconsciously. We turn into machines performing our daily tasks with no reflective thoughts. The danger is in our lives passing by and us, not even noticing.
Most of us suffer from stress coming from ordinary daily life causing higher risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and other illnesses. There is so much we want to accomplish, so we stop paying attention instead of stopping to pay attention. How to become more aware? Mindfulness Meditation is a quick technique that will teach you to notice your life again. Mindfulness is a state of being fully aware of the present moment. A growing research shows that mindfulness exercises lower stress levels, prevent anxiety and depression, and yield many other lifechanging benefits.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Being proven as one of the best stress reduction techniques, Mindfulness Meditation is much more than its main aim of waking up a person to their inner mental, emotional, and physical processes. Mindfulness trains the body to thrive, boosts creativity and strengthens our neural connections. You can learn more about Mindfulness Meditation in one of these books.
- Well-being. Mindfulness Meditation changes attitudes allowing you to fully enjoy every little good thing coming your way, engaging you in every undertaken activity, and creating a stronger ability to cope with adverse events. You stop concentrating on future worries and past regrets by being completely present in the moment. You start forming more meaningful and deep connections with others as you learn to listen actively and contribute to conversations.
- Physical Health. Scientists have proven that mindfulness meditation relieves stress, lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, lowers blood pressure, and treats insomnia.
- Mental Health. Psychotherapists use mindfulness meditation as one of their techniques in treating depression, addiction, anxiety, eating disorders, and in couple therapy. It’s become increasingly common in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy as it helps people accept painful emotions rather than avoid them.
Step-by-step Guide to Mindfulness Meditation
If you decided to try a mindfulness exercise, here is a detailed guide to make your experience effective. The practice seems very easy at first, but its biggest challenge is consistency because the best result can only be achieved with time. Start a journal to track your progress and notice your emotions. You can view a selection of specially designed Mindfulness Meditation journals here. Missed an intended practice? Don’t worry – just follow the steps below when the time is right for you.
1. Take your time.
Mindfulness Meditation doesn’t require any equipment as you can do it at home or outside, sitting on a chair, bench or cushion. What you need is some time in piece and quietness when no one is distracting you. You can choose to sit in silence or turn on soothing music for mindfulness meditation.
2. Sit in a comfortable position.
Make sure you are stable and comfortable. Your back must be straight but not stiff, find your natural curvature and let it be. Take a moment to notice your legs. If you are on a cushion, cross them comfortably in front of you. There shouldn’t be any tension. If you are sitting on a chair or a bench, rest your feet on the ground. Rest your palms on your legs, wherever feels most natural.
3. Soften your gaze and breathe.
You don’t have to close your eyes – lowering your gaze and not focusing on anything is enough. Pay attention to your breath – feel the air going through your nose, notice the movement of your chest or belly.
4. Be in the moment.
Observe the moment you are in right now, don’t try to get rid of all your thoughts, let them flow naturally. It is important to notice and see them from perspective, without judgement and reaction. When you catch yourself making a judgement, take a mental note of that and let the judgement pass. Got carried away by a thought? That happens to all of us as thoughts are constantly flowing through our mind, so don’t worry, just gently return back to the present moment.
5. Stop when you are ready
If you are new, it’s a good idea to set a timer for yourself so you are not constantly wondering when to stop. You may begin with only 5 or 10 minutes and then raise your time to 20 or even 45 minutes per session. When you are done meditating, slowly lift your gaze and notice the sounds of your environment, the way your body feels, your thoughts.
Sun beams are radiating through a deep blue curtain. The cat’s soft purring resonates inside your being. You feel rested as you stretch your whole body, from the tips of your fingers to the end of your toes. A silk robe gently wraps around, engulfing you with warmth. The delicious aroma of coffee brewing fills the air. You listen to your children’s innocence detailing their ambitions for their upcoming basketball game. You hear every word. You respond with generosity. When back from work, you are excited to be home, and start with some down time, a nice warm bath. The whole body is grateful as every muscle relaxes. Going to bed, you notice every feeling, every emotion, every thought. Aspire to a new way of living with the single short habit of Mindfulness Meditation.