Mindfulness is an ancient discipline, put simply, it’s about being present in the moment and aware of your body, mind and surroundings, without judgement. The ideal way to practice mindful meditation is sitting, but you can be mindful anywhere – when walking, traveling on a train, or in a noisy, crowded place. Once you develop your practice of mindfulness, you can really participate in any activity mindfully, and enhance your enjoyment of life, reduce stress, be calmer and more self-aware.
Here are 4 tips to get you started.
Practice for a few minutes each day
Just like any new skill, mindfulness meditation takes practice.
Start small with just a few minutes each day, and build up to longer periods of meditation as it becomes easier. As it becomes easier you’ll find that you can extend your meditation, and practice mindfulness anywhere.
Start by focusing on your breathing
Sit quietly and still, pay attention only to your breathing at first. Then begin to notice your sensations in your body, your thoughts, and gradually extend to noticing the things around you.
If your mind starts to wander, you become distracted by your thoughts or things around you, bring your attention back to your breathing before gradually extending your awareness again.
Practice a body scan
From focusing first on your breathing, slowly move your attention through your body. Start from the top of your head and very gradually move down to your toes.
Notice the feelings and sensations in each area of your body. Do you notice warmth, relaxation or tension. Don’t judge the sensations, just notice them as you move your attention through your body.
If you lose focus, just come back to your breathing.
Separate yourself from your thoughts
When first practicing mindfulness, whether you are sitting or walking, notice the thoughts that come into your mind, but don’t follow the train of thought. Just notice, be aware of the thought and then let it go, continuing the focus on the present moment.
With practice you’ll be able to explore your thoughts. Right now, just get used to noticing and then letting go.
As you become more familiar with mindfulness, with practice you can experience almost anything mindfully. When walking in nature, eating a meal, even somewhere busy and noisy. Getting used to pausing and focusing on your breathing, followed by extending your awareness to your thoughts and surroundings, is a great way to feel more present in your life. You’ll also feel more able to manage stress and anxiety.