I’ve been practicing mindfulness for three decades, over four if you include my martial arts training. Over this time, it’s helped me calm my mind and cultivate greater inner peace and clarity. It’s also greatly improved my self-awareness, which has helped me in all my relationships.
Mindfulness does this by connecting you with the present moment. Instead of thinking about the past or future, you’re training your brain to think about one thing at a time. This increases your self-awareness which can help you optimize your life.
By being more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations, and how they interact, you’re able to gain a deeper insight into yourself. This helps you become better equipped to deal with daily challenges and life in general. It also helps to improve your mental and emotional health.
Mindful meditation practice is an incredibly powerful tool that can help you shift your focus inwards so you can examine your thoughts and feelings like a scientist would. This gives you better insight into who you truly are.
Now that you have a basic idea of how mindful living can help, let’s look at how to begin.
The Importance of Regular Training
Training in martial arts requires commitment. The same goes for training your brain. You need to set aside time on a regular basis for practicing.
Since you’re busy, initially you’ll probably find setting aside time to commit to mindfulness training difficult. But figuring out what works for you and your lifestyle is vital if you want to receive the full impact of mindfulness.
This is a personal development plan that you want to continue so don’t overdo it at first. Instead of jumping into 30-minute sessions, begin by setting aside three to five minutes each day.
Choose a specific time each day. This helps make it become part of your routine. You might choose first thing in the morning or right after dinner. Whatever works for your schedule.
Find a quiet place where you can focus on your thoughts and feelings undisturbed. Turn off all your electronic devices. It’s exceedingly difficult to remain present if you’re constantly being distracted by interruptions.
Set Your Intention
Setting your intention means clearly defining what you want to accomplish. Doing this helps align your thoughts, feelings, and actions towards achieving what you want to accomplish.
Start by identifying a specific area of focus. This might be a particular emotion, physical sensation, or aspect of your life. For example, you may want to reduce stress level or improve your ability to pay attention and remain present.
Keep your intention simple and specific.
Repeat it either aloud or silently as you begin. This helps to anchor your mind and guide your attention.
After your session, take a moment to reflect on your intention. See if you noticed any insights or changes that came about as a result. Note these in your journal.
Once you’ve set your intention, you need to pay attention to your breath.
Incorporate Breathing into Your Practice
Taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing is one of the most powerful exercises to help you focus on the present moment. It can also help you return to the present when your mind wanders.
You don’t have to use breathing mindfully only during your mindfulness sessions. You can employ it in difficult situations to help you calm your body and mind. It also helps you manage stress better.
The following is a simple explanation of a diaphragmatic breathing exercise that you can use to help you become more mindful. You can find the full version of this exercise in my book, Modern Mindfulness.
Put one hand on your stomach and another on your chest.
Take a deep breath in focusing on expanding your abdomen and pushing your stomach hand outward. As you exhale, concentrate on contracting your abdomen as your hand falls inward.
Continue doing this for a few minutes.
When you first begin, use shorter time periods.
As you continue, you’ll find what feels comfortable to you.
One last thing. Don’t force your breathing. If it starts to feel uncomfortable, go back to your natural breathing pattern.
By practicing diaphragmatic breathing, you are allowing your mind to pay full attention to the present moment. This gets you ready for the next step, using visualization to help you form your thought patterns.
Enhance Your Clarity and Insight with Visualization Techniques
Over the years, I’ve used visualization to help in many areas of my life. These include breaking bricks as martial artist, problem-solving in my business and completing goals in my personal and professional life.
Visualization, also known as guided imagery or mental imagery, is a technique where you use your imagination to create a mental image of a particular scene, event, or object in your mind.
You can use this technique to focus on a specific goal, relax your mind, and improve your mental fitness.
While visualizing, you focus on creating a vivid and detailed mental image of your desired outcome. These images might include positive experiences you want to have, like a promotion at work or completing a marathon.
If you’re working on a problem associated with anxiety, this might include imagining moving through a peaceful setting, such as a beach or forest to help change your unhelpful thought patterns.
You can also use visualization with other techniques, such as self-hypnosis, to enhance the effectiveness of your visualization experience.
Remember to be Patient and Have Self-Compassion
I’ve studied martial arts since I was twelve. Since then, I’ve become a master instructor.
How did this happen? I practiced and improved my skill level and gained knowledge a little at a time.
Like martial arts, mindfulness is a skill. Like other skills, mindfulness takes time and effort to develop. Be patient with yourself as you start to learn this new skill.
This will help you maintain a positive mental attitude as you build a solid foundation.
Another thing to keep in mind is like any worthwhile skill, learning mindfulness can be challenging. This is especially true when you’re dealing with difficult emotions or situations.
So be sure to have self-compassion for yourself when things get tough. This can help you to stay motivated and engaged.
One last point is mindfulness is not about perfection. Your goal isn’t being perfect, but rather being present and accepting of what is. As you learn, being patient and compassionate allows you to let go of old patterns that are not helpful and instead, focus on living in the moment.
Track Your Progress and Celebrate Achievements
To get the most out of a physical exercise program you need to track your progress. This works the same for mindfulness.
When you track your progress, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and set realistic goals. This will help to improve your ability to focus and stay motivated.
Without allowing yourself to reflect on your practice, you won’t be able to identify areas for improvement. Tracking your progress helps you to make the needed adjustments to your practice for you to grow and develop.
Tracking also holds you accountable and helps ensure that you are making progress towards your goals.
Finally, simply taking time to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, can provide you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This will help to keep you motivated and engaged.
Utilize Supportive Resources like Guided Meditations or Books
Unlike when I first began studying, today there are lots of helpful resources to help you begin living in a mindful way. Two are guided meditations and books, which can both have a positive effect on your study. You can find many of these on YouTube.
These videos can help guide you quickly into a meditative state and have been known to enhance your brain health.
Most offer clear and concise instructions that help guide you, encouraging you to relax, focus on your breath, and if your mind wanders, redirect it back to the moment.
Another helpful resource is books. Reading others’ experiences can offer greater insight into the process and help you see your training through a new perspective. Many books provide simple yet effective techniques to foster better self-connection and awareness. These include much of what you’ve experienced in this article, such as breathing techniques, visualization practices, and mindfulness exercises.
Use These Tips to Optimize Your Mind and Improve Your Performance with Mindfulness
As you’ve discovered, mindful meditation is an easy and effective way to help bring clarity, focus, and improved cognitive functioning into your life.
Your study can be as simple as you want it to be. You don’t need any special equipment. All you need to do is set aside a little time and find a quiet place where you can sit quietly.
If you want, you can incorporate mindful moments in different activities throughout your day. People engage in mindful walking, dish washing and even tooth brushing.
It may benefit you both physically and mentally and can help you get your attention back when it wanders during the day.
Hopefully, by now you understand it’s worth exploring and committing to practice.
I can assure you that you won’t regret it!
Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the daily hustle and bustle of life? Don’t worry, Modern Mindfulness has got you covered! This beginner’s guide on how to find peace and happiness in a busy world can help bring calm back into your life. With practical tips and advice, this book will teach you how to recognize triggers that cause stress, how to practice mindful living and reflection, as well as helpful ways to de-stress throughout the day. Learn to be more present and content in the moment with Modern Mindfulness.