I am always researching meditation with Google Alerts. One thing is clear, many people are beginning their mindful practice, to say the least, with great enthusiasm.
So, I wanted to get you started on the right foot on learning how to start a mindful practice.
How can you start a mindfulness practice for beginners?
Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Practice breathing awareness for at least ten minutes at least once a day. Each time you notice that your mind is no longer on your breath, let it go and gently return to the breath. Over time try extending the duration of the meditation until you can do it for thirty minutes or more.
Being mindful means being an impartial observer of your life. It is the ability to stay present in the moment without allowing the mind to get side-tracked by the moment to moment daily events. Mindfulness is a state of acute awareness without judgment — awareness of both the long and short-term effects of your everyday choices and decisions.
The Essentials Of A Mindful Meditation Practice
With all of its benefits, practicing mindful meditation is extremely easy. Let’s go through the steps.
Wear comfortable clothing. You don’t want to have your focus interrupted by a tight pair of pants or a skirt. Find a comfortable seat. Ideally, it will be in a peaceful spot without clutter and noise. You can meditate indoors or outdoors.
Start your meditation with short sessions of around 10 minutes. This will make it easy to develop the habit of meditating and working your way up to half an hour or even a full hour. Mornings or evenings are the best times, but any time you spend meditating works. You can also split your meditation sessions and do half when you get up and the second half before going to bed.19
Getting Started With Mindful Meditation
Guided Mindfulness Meditation For Everyone To Practice In Just 10 Minutes
Either sit in the traditional lotus position or simply relax in a comfortable chair, with your feet resting on the floor. Keep your spine straight but not stiff. Let your head hang naturally with a downward gaze.
Your hands should be resting comfortably on your thighs. You can keep your eyes open, but most people seem to prefer closing them. Do whatever works best for you. The goal is to get completely comfortable and not to worry about whether you are doing it right or wrong. Just do it, and you will enjoy the results.
Start focusing on your breathing. All your attention should be on how the air feels as you inhale deeply through your nose down to your stomach, then exhale. Notice the physical sensations of the air moving down your body, then being expelled through the nose. Become aware of the rise and fall in your chest as you inhale and
Don’t worry if your attention wanders. This is perfectly normal. What is important is that you don’t try to stop those intruding thoughts. Just let them flow through your mind non-judgmentally and return your focus to your breathing. If you find your thoughts20 wandering too often, don’t worry. Simply observe whatever is happening. Don’t judge or blame yourself. Just observe what your mind is doing.
When you’re done meditating, sit quietly for a moment before opening your eyes. Take a minute and observe what you are feeling. Again, it’s important not to judge yourself. When you are ready, go about your day.
The act of focusing on your breath helps you become aware of your thoughts and emotions. The more you meditate, the more aware you become. Meditation is all about increasing your awareness.
How Mindful Meditation Helps You Overcome Stressful Situations
Daily mindful meditation will help you cope with stress, but even normal days can make it challenging to remain in focus and mindful. Your boss wants to see you in his office NOW. Your spouse has been argumentative all week. Your child, who has just received his or her driver’s license yesterday, has disappeared with your car and five best friends. It’s stressful, and it’s called life. Mindfulness can help you cope with these adversities.
Before seeing the boss, arguing with your spouse, or writing your heir out of the will, take a deep breath. Literally. Even if it’s at your desk, sit quietly and spend two minutes inhaling and exhaling. However, you can do this exercise anywhere, such as in an elevator or while waiting for a street light to change. There’s remarkable power in breathing. Just a few minutes will help calm you for whatever you need to face. These short breathing moments can be your own mini mental health spa.
You will also find that taking a mindful walk can greatly elevate your mood. All it takes is 10 or 15 minutes. You can do this outdoors or in the hallway of your office.
Get Started With A Walking Meditation
Walking meditation helps focus your scattered thoughts. It’s a chance to work through the mental tsunami that can invariably ruin your day. You can do it anywhere, while walking to the store, to work, or through a park. Take care while crossing the street.
When we walk in a normal fashion, we do so automatically, without awareness. We simply move forward from Point A to Point B. Not so with walking meditation.
During walking meditation, keep your hands wherever they are most comfortable – at your side or in front of you. You may find it useful to mentally count out 10 steps at a time as you walk. Instead of focusing on the rising and falling of your breath, you will focus on your feet as they rise and fall with each step. Be aware of your body as it shifts its weight as you walk.
As in sitting meditation, thoughts will intrude. You will notice sights and sounds as you move. That’s fine. Be aware of the intruding thoughts and gently shift your attention back to your feet.
Another form of walking meditation is to focus on your environment instead of your body. As you walk, become aware of the sounds and smells around you. Notice colors and shapes. Don’t judge or react, simply remain aware. If your mind wanders, pull it back into focus.
Whether you do a regular half-hour meditation session at home or a mindful walking meditation on the way to the store, incorporating mindfulness into your day should become a natural part of your lifestyle. You deserve it.
Preparing To Meditate – Advanced Planning Can Go A Long Way
As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, what you’re really doing is you’re planning to fail.” If you want to meditate correctly, you have to prepare to meditate first. Don’t just rush in, or just jump in with both feet and expect the best. That’s not going to happen.
If you just rush in without any advanced thinking or planning, whatsoever, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. It doesn’t really get any simpler than that. A lot of people who would tell you that meditation doesn’t work, or meditation isn’t for them simply didn’t bother to plan to meditate.
Because, by and large, it is safe to say that meditation would work for everybody, as long as they planned properly, and as long as they follow the right steps. A little bit of advanced planning can go a long way.
Here Are The Steps That I Followed To Get Started On My Daily Mindful Meditation Practice
Do This First: Learn How To Find Time For Yourself
Find The Time You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Meditation sounds awesome, but the problem is I just don’t have the time. I’m too busy at work, and I’m stressed out enough as it is, and at the end of the day, I’m unable to achieve much of anything. This is why I have to spend even more time at the office to try to achieve something.”
I can understand where you’re coming from because this is the mentality of way too many Americans, but you, in fact, have a lot of time. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to the results that you actually managed to achieve in the span of a typical workday.
Trace that back to the things that you actually do. You would be shocked to discover that roughly 20% of your daily tasks are actually the ones that are responsible for 80% of your results. Imagine that 20% of the things you do produce 80% of your results. What’s the implication of this? 80% of your time is spent working on worrying over and planning for 20% of your results.
In other words, you spend all that time, and you really don’t achieve much with that time. So, wouldn’t it be nice simply to expand the time you have for the actions that produce 80% of your results and free up large chunks of the 80% of your actions and tasks that only account for 20% of your results? This is the logical way to do it, so find the time.
Furthermore, you can free up a lot more time by imposing tight deadlines on common tasks that you do. Like, for example, checking email or checking updates. You can set yourself up to do those on a tight deadline of maybe 5 minutes instead of taking half an hour. If you are able to do that, then you automatically have 25 minutes to spare.
Both approaches described above squeeze out the extra time from your schedule. You actually have a lot more time than you care to realize.
Second Step: Get Your Mind Right About Meditation
One of the most common reasons people fail with meditation is because they approach it operating under all sorts of common myths and misconceptions. Some people are under the impression that if you meditate, you automatically become religious because it is an act of faith.
Other people think that meditation is just too hard because it requires too much effort in terms of brain power and brain focus. Even others are convinced that when you meditate, you get so relaxed, and you tap into so much inner peace that you lack the ambition and fire in the belly that you need to achieve success in life.
I’ve got some great news for you. None of these are correct. That’s right. The meditation neither makes you religious, requires a tremendous amount of effort, nor makes you a lazy bum. None of them apply.
You have to neutralize unproductive assumptions as well. One common assumption is that you just need to follow the techniques and follow the instructions to the letter, and there would be a smooth transition. Everything would be quick and easy.
This is a problem because most things you try in life that are brand-new to you are not quick and easy. Understand that you have to come in with the right expectations.
So, what is the workaround? Very simple… expect resistance! Expect a rough start, and you would have the right mental framework, so when you do experience a rough start, you are in problem-solving mode.
Now, compare this with assuming that everything will be quick and easy, and you face a challenge. Chances are, you probably would want to quit because you thought it was going to be a smooth transition. Do you see how that works?
To Prepare Adequately For Your Meditation Practice, Keep In Mind The Following Facts.
First, effective meditation doesn’t have to take massive blocks of time. You don’t have to meditate for an hour straight or one hour total every single day for you to benefit from meditation. In fact, according to most people surveyed, 15 to 20 minutes is plenty.
Second, you don’t have to believe that it works. Let me repeat that; you don’t have to believe that it works. Just go through the process and feel it make changes. Unlike a religious system that requires belief for it to work for you, meditation is all about experiencing your life, so just go through the process, experience it for yourself, and everything else will fall into place.
Third, you don’t have to expend any effort. I know this is mindblowing to a lot of people because a lot of people think that when you meditate, you actually have to put in a lot of effort. Sometimes, you have to physically exercise. Well, that’s yoga. This is meditation. These are two totally different things.
You just have to go through the process, and you would see how effortless it is because you’re just tapping into how your mind is already working. Your mind is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. You just tap into that internal biochemical, psychological machinery, and everything else will snap into place. You just have to go through the process.
The effort is not really part of the equation. Don’t Make Things Harder on Yourself With unrealistic start dates.
Finally, one common way people tend to undermine their success is when they set very unrealistic start dates. This often takes two forms. Either you set the date too remotely, or you set it too close to today’s day.
Why are both of these problematic? When you set it too remotely, you no longer get that sense of urgency that you need to get going. There’s no mechanism that forces you to take action as soon as possible because the date is so remote that there’s no consequence.
Similarly, if you pick a date that is too near, like, let’s say tomorrow, it’s so close you become so intimidated that it’s not a surprise that people simply just drop everything and not start. You can’t freak yourself out that way. It has to be remote enough to be comfortable, but not so remote that it robs you of any sense of urgency.
Pick A Start Date You Can Commit To
The bottom line is once you have identified a comfortable start date, stick to it. Commit to it and look forward to your initial meditation target timeframe of 15 to 20 minutes.
It’s important to make sure that you do this daily. It’s better to be consistent rather than put in a tremendous amount of time, but only doing it once in a blue moon.
Related Questions About Mindfulness Meditation:
Starting Your Mindfulness Meditation Practice
- Prepare Yourself. Before even attempting to do any practice, understand that your practice is not a performance.
- Bring Heart into It. This is about you learning how to live a better life for yourself.
- Forgive Yourself. Being compassionate starts with you.
- Thank Yourself. You are doing one of the most important activities, it starts with you.
- Find a Buddy. Find someone who would want to come on this adventure with you.
How do I become mindful?
- Practice mindfulness during routine activities. Any small activity is ok.
- Practice right when you wake up. Post a note in the bathroom to remind you.
- Let your mind wander. Immerse yourself in a vivid, focused daydream, it’s good for you!
- Keep it short. You don’t have to spend any more time than you want to. Just do it!
- Practice mindfulness while you wait. Take advantage of delays, appointments or any downtime.
- Pick a prompt to remind you to be mindful. Set a reminder on your phone to beep every hour.
- Learn to meditate. Explore the many mindfulness resources on the web and this site.
How often should you practice mindfulness?
Practice breathing awareness for at least ten minutes at least once a day. Each time you notice that your mind is no longer on your breath, let it go and gently return to the breath. Over time try extending the duration of the meditation until you can do it for at least twenty minutes or more each day.
Is mindfulness the same as meditation?
Nowadays, mindfulness and meditation are often used to mean the same thing, which can be confusing, while not many are clear on what ‘mindfulness meditation’ is and how it differs from either of the above. “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we non-judgmentally pay attention in the present moment and only the present moment. You will find it’s an amazing experience.
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