Everything you need to know about mindfulness
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of learning to be present at the moment. It is the practice of training your mind to slow down any racing thoughts, release any negativity, and calm both your mind and body. This mental practice consists of deep breathing and awareness of your body and mind.
By combining meditation with mindfulness, you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts and feelings, without judgment and stay calm in difficult situations.
“Mindfulness is your awareness of what's going on in the present moment without any judgment.”
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Reduced Stress: This practice is known to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger as well as help with several mental disorders including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a standardized mindfulness technique used in therapy to treat stress and its symptoms. Mindfulness meditation not only helps to manage stress but also improves stress-related mental and physical health problems.
Better Physical Health: Mindfulness meditation has been linked to improvements in lower back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Type 2 diabetes, and fibromyalgia. It reduces fatigue and stress in people with chronic pain.
Lower Heart Rate: Heart disease is one of the top causes of death and an abnormally increased heart rate can cause lead to heart failure and other heart-related health problems. Research shows that mindfulness can be beneficial for your heart. By slowing racing thoughts and reducing anxiety, mindfulness meditation calms your mind and body and lowers your heart rate.
Improves immunity: Studies have proven that mindfulness practices have disease-fighting powers that can improve your body's resistance to illness. It not only boosts the immune system but also helps to recover more quickly from cold or flu.
Better Sleep: Studies have also shown that practicing mindfulness meditation might improve sleep quality and even be useful for treating certain sleep disturbances.
Improves Memory and Cognitive Performance: Mindfulness also has the potential to enhance your memory. It not only helps you to focus on your thoughts and remember things more readily but it can also play a role in improving your ability to think flexibly and clearly. Mindfulness meditation can improve your ability to focus your attention for a longer period of time, shift your thoughts and hold your attention without being distracted, and control other thoughts that interfere with your focus.
Better Relationships: Practicing mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on your interpersonal relationships. People who were more mindful tend to be more accepting of their partner's flaws and imperfections and more understanding / tolerant of differences.
Reduced Cell Ageing, Addiction Problems, Alzehmeirs, and more: Cell aging occurs naturally over the lifespan but it can increase with disease or by stress. Proteins called telomeres protect the cells from aging. Studies suggest that long-time meditators may have greater telomere lengths that can serve the cells for longer periods of time.
Similarly, as our cells age, we are more prone to memory loss and related illnesses. Mindfulness meditation improves our attention, memory, and cognitive abilities and reduces our chances of illness like Alzehmeirs.
This practice can also be a useful adjunct to drug addiction treatment. It can help patients better understand and tolerate their cravings, potentially helping them to avoid relapse, after they’ve been safely weaned off of drugs or alcohol. It may also help people struggling with overeating.
Since stress is a common cause of both mental and physical illness, stress-reducing therapies such as mindfulness meditation can not only reduce stress but also improve stress-related mental and physical health problems.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
It’s easy! Simply take a seat, get comfortable, close your eyes, pay attention to your breath, and when your attention wanders, bring your awareness back to your breathing.
How to Sit for Mindfulness Meditation
Get comfortable: Whether you’re sitting on a chair, a cushion, a bench, or on the floor, make sure you are comfortable. Find a seat that is stable and solid. Do not perch or hang back.
Notice your legs: If you’re sitting on a cushion on the floor, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. You can choose any other yoga posture, with which you are comfortably acquainted. If you’re on a chair, make sure your feet are well rested on the floor.
Sit upright: Straighten, but don’t stiffen, your upper body. Drop your shoulders and look straight so that your head comfortably rests on top of your vertebrae.
Leave your upper arms parallel to your upper body: Place your hands onto the tops of your legs. With your upper arms at your sides, your hands will land in the right spot.
Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward: You may let your eyelids lower. You may close your eyes, but it is not necessary. You can simply keep them open, without focusing on what appears in front.
Relax: Be in this position for a few moments before bringing your attention to your breath.
Feel your breath: Draw your attention to your breath and the physical sensation of breathing. Notice the air moving through your nose or mouth, along the throat, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest. Choose a focal point, so that you can notice the “breathing in” and “breathing out” of each breath.
Your attention may wander: Don’t worry, this is common. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering, just gently return your attention to your breath.
Pause before making any physical adjustments: If you need to move your body or scratch an itch, practice pausing. Be aware of the shift you make and the moment you make it.
You may find your mind wandering constantly: This is normal too! Don't fight, resist or engage with those thoughts. The goal isn’t to stop thinking or to empty the mind. Mindfulness meditation is about being aware so simply observe your thoughts without reacting. It is hard to just maintain, but try to come back, without any judgment or expectation.
Ending the practice: When you’re done, gently lift your gaze or open your eyes, if closed. Take a moment to notice the sounds around you. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Take a moment to be grateful before you end the practice and continue with your day.
If you're having trouble practicing mindfulness meditation on your own, join our guided meditation sessions to help you get centered throughout your day.
Tips to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life
While mindfulness meditation is an impactful technique, you can benefit by including mindfulness practices in your everyday tasks and activities such as:
Brushing your teeth
Doing laundry: Pay attention to the smell of the clean clothes and the feel of the fabric. Count your breaths as you fold laundry.
Driving: Turn off the radio—or put on something soothing, like classical music.
Exercising: Instead of watching television while on the treadmill, try focusing on your breathing and where your feet are as you move.
By bringing mindfulness into your everyday life, you can reap greater benefits from your meditation practice and by simply being present in the moment.