Mindfulness asks us to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we are doing. From sleeping to eating, bringing awareness to all of our senses and emotions. A mindfulness practice wakes up the brain and allows us to control how we react.
Where to begin a mindfulness practice?
Many people think that you have to start a yoga class, or meditation group in order to begin training your brain to be mindful. But did you know that being mindful is practiced in every moment? You can begin by closing your eyes at your desk, taking a deep breath, BEFORE answering that next email, it's that simple.
By taking time to pay attention and be present in the now, you are becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions so you can be more self-understanding and release stress.
What do you need?
You don't need anything fancy, just time. When you first begin, set aside some quiet time where you won't be bothered for about 15 minutes. The idea is that you are learning how to think without judgment and let go of stressful feelings.
No, you don't need to hum or repeat a mantra, you are just learning how to settle down anxious thoughts, randomness, and try to find a quiet mind space.
The first thing you will learn when you begin your practice is that everyone has a lot of crazy thoughts that pop into your head when you are trying to be quiet. And that's okay!
Make a note of your thoughts and let them go. When you practice coming back to your center and work on breathing clear deep breathes, you will see that these random thoughts drift out with the next exhale.
How to begin Meditating
Meditation and Mindfulness work together to create balance in your thoughts. Meditation helps you to focus on your breath and use it as an anchor point to keep your mind centered.
- Find a place where you can sit comfortably or lie down. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to let go of physical thoughts.
- You can keep your eyes open if you can let go of looking around. I find it easier to close my eyes so I don't get distracted on something silly.
- Then begin with 4 deep breathes done like this: Draw in to the count of 4. Hold to the count of 5. Let go to the count of 6.
Help for Meditations
There are many self-guided meditations that you can follow. I personally love Headspace. It's an app for your phone that you can use to listen to and help guide you into meditation. There are no religious undertones, and it's free to begin. I've tried a bunch of other mindfulness apps and sites, and most of them want money or are trying to get you to believe a certain way.
So I settled on Headspace and after a while of doing the basics over and over, I got the expansions. But you don't need to, and I never felt pressured to buy anything. I love it, and it makes me feel like I am taking control over my thoughts and emotions. And I can take it anywhere. Last week I brought out my headphones and practiced right on the airplane back from Seattle! I've used my practice everywhere!
It's my life, my mindfulness practice, and I love feeling like I am taking action to better myself.
Another good place for free meditations is Mindful.org. They have a few really good ones you can try. They also have a few different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. It's a good site!
Whatever you do, know that taking steps to be more mindful, more aware, and letting go of stressful thoughts, that's healing and you will thank yourself for it.