By: Stan Popovich
Life can be full of stressful situations that cause anxiety and fear. Between work, maintaining your household, paying bills, and general anxiety about the state of the world, it’s important to maintain mindfulness and make your mental health a priority. While this may seem out of reach for some people, it’s possible with a little education and practice. Here’s how to achieve mindfulness with meditation to improve your mental health.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more fully aware of the present moment rather than dwelling in the past, projecting into the future, or what’s going on around us. It generally involves a heightened awareness of sensory stimuli such as our breathing and being “in the now.” Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
The Benefits Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has been scientifically researched and proven to be a critical component in reducing stress, fear, and anxieties while improving our everyday happiness. When we meditate, we infuse far-reaching and long-lasting benefits into our lives.
- Lower stress levels
- Become kinder to ourselves and others
- Understand our past traumas and pain
- Reduce brain chatter
- Gain insight and awareness
Achieve Mindfulness With Meditation
Meditation is the first step toward mindfulness. Monks are known for waking up early and meditating for 1 to 3 hours and doing the same at night, which some researchers say can alter the brain’s chemistry. But even sitting in silence for ten minutes a day can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul. Here’s a mindful guide on achieving mindful meditation.
1. Find a comfortable place.
First and foremost, you’ll want to find a comfortable seat in a relaxed and stress-free environment. I recommend sitting on a meditation cushion or chair with your feet on the ground. Allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably; place your hands on the tops of your legs with upper arms at your side. Put your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
2. Focus on your breathing.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. Keep your attention on the sensation of the inhale and exhale of your breath. Focus on the air moving through your nose or the rising and falling of your stomach and chest. Many people worry about whether they’re breathing the right way. I recommend breathing in whatever way feels comfortable to you. Just be mindful if you stop breathing.
3. Reduce wandering thoughts.
It’s normal to have wandering thoughts or distractions, so don’t judge yourself if you start becoming distracted. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, just let them pass by, without focusing on any particular thought. Thoughts will try to pull your attention away from your breathing. Notice them, but don’t pass judgment. Gently return your focus to your breath. Some people count their breaths as a way to stay focused.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Do not be harsh or judgmental if you find your mind wandering. Mindfulness is also about accepting yourself and treating yourself with compassion. Show yourself the same compassion and understanding that you would to a close friend. Once you’ve finished, gently open your eyes and be conscious of your thoughts and feelings. Think about how you want to spend the rest of your day to bring you inner peace.
5. Practice makes perfect.
A daily practice will provide the most benefits. It can be 10 minutes per day, however, 20 minutes twice a day is often recommended for maximum benefit. Do what you can with the time you have.
Mindfulness Practices You Can Use Every Day
Too busy to meditate? Although mindfulness is a beneficial practice in achieving with meditation, it’s also possible to perform everyday tasks while being mindful, including brushing our teeth, commuting to work, or savoring our food. Rather than going through the motions, tune into your five senses, which include sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
Using Mindfulness In Your Daily Life
Learning to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life is not always easy. It may take some time and practice to learn to slow down and live in the moment. Some things that you can do that may help:
1. Live in the moment.
Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting, and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
2. Practice focusing on one thing at a time.
Multitasking can leave you feeling distracted, so try simply concentrating on one task with your full, focused attention.
3. Pay attention.
It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste, and truly enjoy it.
4. Go outside.
Spending time outdoors such as walking is a great way to live in the moment and observe the sights, sounds, and sensations of the world around you.
Common Questions About Mindfulness Meditation
Can I achieve mindfulness through meditation?
You can achieve mindfulness through meditation by clearing your mind, controlling your breathing, and eliminating distractions for at least 10 minutes a day. The more you practice, the better you will become.
Do I need to schedule my meditation?
This is entirely up to you. The good part of mediation is that it’s only a short part of your day. While some people prefer morning meditation, others enjoy meditation during the day or before bedtime. I recommend trying all three to see what you like.
What should I do if I start feeling restlessness?
Restlessness is a common roadblock for those new to meditation, but don’t let that deter you. Focus on the present and quiet that voice inside–the one that offers commentary on what your doing or feeling. Through regular practice, you’ll notice less restlessness.
Can meditation really improve my health?
Yes, meditation has shown to improve both physical and mental health. In addition, mindfulness builds resilience and awareness to help people learn how to ride life’s ups and downs and live happier and healthier lives.
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