Mindfulness is a mental state that involves being fully focused on “the now” so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Meditation can help you to practice mindfulness by helping you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. It helps you in reducing stress, it lowers your heart rate, improves your immunity and you get better sleep.
Mindfulness meditation involves deep breathing while being aware of your body and mind. Products such as candles, essential oils, or mantras are not necessary unless you enjoy them. To get started, all you need is a comfortable place to sit, three to five minutes of free time, and a judgment-free mindset.
How to Practice?
Designate a Time
Setting up a timer can help you focus on meditation and eliminate any excuses you have for stopping and doing something else. While some people meditate for longer sessions, even a few minutes every day can make a difference. Begin with a short, 5-minute meditation session and increase your sessions by 10 or 15 minutes until you are comfortable meditating for 30 minutes at a time. If you have a regular yoga routine at home, you can do your meditation at the end.
Create the Space
You need to find a place for your practice. It doesn’t have to be big or have any kind of special decor, but it should be away from household distractions. Silence your phone so that you’re not tempted to break off your meditation if it rings.
How to Sit
If you can sit on the floor, have blankets or a cushion to sit on. Try a cross-legged position like sukasana. Most people cannot sit for long periods in the lotus position and can even injure themselves trying, so you can try virasana with a block under your seat. It is often an easier position for your back. If you can’t sit on the floor, that’s fine too. Find a chair where you can sit up straight with both your feet resting flat on the floor.
Focus on Breathing
Become aware of your breath. Feel your belly rise and fall as the air enters your nostrils and leaves your nostrils. Pay attention to the temperature change when the breath is inhaled versus when it’s exhaled.
Notice your Thoughts
The goal is not to stop your thoughts but to get more comfortable with them. When thoughts come up in your mind, don’t ignore or suppress them. Simply note them, remain calm, and use your breathing as an anchor. Repeat this as often as you need to while you are meditating.
Give Yourself a Break
If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts just return to your breathing. Don’t be hard on yourself if this happens; the practice of returning to your breath and refocusing on the present is the practice of mindfulness.
However there are many other simple ways to practice mindfulness:
Pay attention – Try to take the time to experience your environment with all 5 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.
Live in the moment- It’s not easy to be completely available in a moment since our brain keeps on running all over the place. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
Accept yourself- Treat yourself with love and kindness. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
You can also try more structured mindfulness exercises, such as:
Body scan meditation
Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
Sit comfortably with straight back, feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Breath through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If any physical sensation or thought interrupts your meditation, note the experience and return your focus to your breath.
Find a quiet place and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, feeling the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.
Getting started with a mindfulness meditation practice can sometimes feel intimidating, but it’s important to remember that even a few minutes each day can be beneficial. Studies have found that meditating three to four times per week can have big benefits—and, regularly meditating for eight weeks will actually alter the brain, according to neuroimaging studies.