Meditation: How to Practice Mindfulness

Life is beautiful– full of experiences, opinions, and thoughts. These opinions and thoughts could form from media, other people or just ones that you make up in your own head based off of experience. One statistic I read, stated that we each can have up to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s INSANE. How are we even coping? Not to mention that some of these thoughts trigger some type of emotion both good and bad. No wonder some days I can’t keep it together.

One thing that I am doing to center myself that seems to be working is Mindfulness Meditation. Some may roll their eyes but just keep reading.

What is Meditation?

Let’s start with some definitions.

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

headspace.com

Meditation is the process of quieting the mind in order to spend time in thought for relaxation or religious/spiritual purposes. The goal is to attain an inner state of awareness and intensify personal and spiritual growth

Yogapedia.com

How does Meditation work?

Mediation is not just about focusing on nothing or brain dumping, it’s about guiding your thoughts to the present. Being in the moment.

Stop for a moment and focus on how you naturally breathe . Inhale. Exhale. Are your breathing in your chest or more so in your belly?

Try to breathe a full breath through your nostrils letting your belly expand and then a slow exhale out through your mouth as your belly contracts. You’ve just practiced a technique that is a crucial part of meditation. Simple! And didn’t take much time or effort. Let’s continue.


Photo by Lesly Juarez

How to Meditate?

There are different practices and techniques of Meditation that allow you to go deeper and focus on certain areas of the body and mind. As mentioned earlier, I enjoy Mindfulness Meditation but other types include, Body Scan, Mindful Eating, and Transcendental Mediations.

Mindful.com and NY Times.com offer guided mediation audio samples and  great information to help you along the journey.

DISCLAIMER: Your mind may drift to distracting thoughts (Remember you have almost 70,000 of them). This is only natural and somewhat expected. Do not beat yourself up about this.

 My husband sometimes will join me on a Mediation journey or two, and often becomes frustrated because he finds that it’s too hard to clear his mind. Thoughts just keep popping up. I assure him that it happens to me too and that’s ok. Meditation is not the art of NOT thinking it’s the art and intention of being still.  So, pat yourself on the back for intending to bring calmness and stillness into your life even just for that moment.


Photo by Free To Use Sounds

Let’s Begin

1.CHILL SPOT Find a great spot that is quiet and calm (no TV or phone noise in the background)

2. TIME IT Set a time limit. Beginners usually start any where from 1 to 5 minutes, while those more experienced do up to 45 minutes. I started with 5 minutes but again all you need is 1 minute. 60 seconds! I use the timer in my Insight Timer App but you can also use the timer on your phone to keep track.

3. CHECK YOUR COMFORT LEVEL As you sit in a chair or on the floor legs crossed, make sure you are relaxed and comfortable. Grab a cushion or change your pose if necessary.

4. BREATHE Focus on your breath pattern inhale in through the nose and exhale out through the mouth.

5. BE KIND When your mind begins to wander to to-do lists, or embarrassing or judgmental thoughts, take notice that your mind has roamed. Gently walk take hold of that thought and release it. Then walk your mind back to your breathing pattern.  Be  gentle and kind with yourself. Do not punish yourself for having a thought.

6. When your time ends, open your eyes slowly, take a look at your surroundings, and take note of how you feel.  NOTE: you do not have to fully close your eyes during this practice. You can have them partially open staring at a particular area with no focus.


Photo by Deniz Altindas

What are the benefits of Meditation?

Here are a few proven benefits from Meditation.

1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

2. More compassion

3. Better memory

4. Promote Happiness

5. Reduce the “mind clutter”

6. Improve focus and clarity

How to become better at Meditating

To become better at meditation, make it a habit! This can also be applied to any new life improvements you are looking to incorporate as well. Here’s how to help form that habit–

  1. Pick a specific time 
  2. Pick a specific place
  3. Make an effort to do it everyday (or as regularly as you would like).

 Remember, all it takes is 60 seconds.


Photo by Artem Riasnianskyi

It doesn’t cost you a thing. Although there are classes and apps that may require a monetary commitment, you don’t need any of that. All you need is that quiet corner and a comfy mat or chair. That’s it! As you become more advanced or more adventurous I would then advise you to branch out and look into other guided affordable options. I currently use the Insight Timer App which is free to download and includes both free and paid options.

I hope this information will make your path to Mediation clearer and provide you the courage to give it a try. No matter what your religious belief, background, or tax bracket, we all need time to decompress and I hope this gets you one step closer.

XOXO,

Rida J

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