What is a mindfulness practice? Simply put, a mindfulness practice is the process of staying in the moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment in a gentle, non-judgmental way.
Mindfulness practice is a tool that you can use as a form of meditation. This allows you to disengage from all the chatter and noise of your daily life. It is also a great way to become more in-tune with your thoughts and feelings and what your body is telling you. You also use it in conjunction with therapies, such as CBT, to address and correct flaws in the way you go about approaching problems and making decisions.
Beginning Your Mindfulness Practice
You might be thinking, “I’m not sure about this.” If you are, you are not alone. Many people find starting a mindfulness practice a little daunting. You may, like others, link this practice with mysticism or with religion. Just so you know, it’s not hard and you won’t have to a cult. Just remember you’ll need a little patience.
Here’s some quick tips to help you begin your mindfulness practice.
Step 1. Pay attention to your breathing.
While you may have some ideas about having to sit a certain way or repeat certain sounds, the first thing you need to do to practice mindfulness is simply to breathe. Start by breathing deeply in and out through your nose and in and out of your abdomen.
This mindfulness practice helps to decrease your stress levels. It does it by circulating more oxygen throughout your brain and body. The increased oxygen levels send your brain signals that you are in the ‘rest and digest state’. This helps to reduce cortisol while slowing your brain’s activity.
Step 2. Focus on paying attention to your senses
Next, begin to focus on your senses, bringing your attention inward. Listen for sounds that you normally miss. Notice the temperature in the room. Think about the smells around you. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
This doesn’t mean you need to ‘look’ for any particular input from your senses, rather just let them come to you. As you do, you’ll begin to relax and be able to appreciate them for what they are, part of the here and now.
Step 3. Use Body Scan Meditation
As you begin to relax, you will find there are uncomfortable places in your body. Here you can use ‘body scan’ meditation to locate these spots and then release any feeling of discomfort. Start from your head and face. Notice any muscles that are tight or contracted. Then move down through your neck, releasing any tension there. Continue with your shoulders, arms and all the way to your toes.
Once you reach your toes, return your attention to your chest. As you continue your mindfulness practice, pay attention to how your chest rises and falls as you breathe. Count your breaths while you allow your thoughts to become still.
Step 4. Let your mind wander
Now that you are paying attention to your breathing, allow your mind to do whatever it wants. If it wanders (which it will) allow it to wander. If it wants to be still (which it might) let it be still.
Let yourself detach from your thoughts. While you might notice your thoughts, don’t get ‘caught up’ in them. When you notice yourself getting lost, simply bring yourself calmly back to your breathing. As you continue your mindfulness practice, instead of judging you learn to just be.
Your mindfulness practice is about paying attention in a relaxed manner. Don’t put any pressure on yourself during this process and don’t expect immediate results. When you get an itch, scratch it, and then go back to your breathing.
Mindfulness practice is about letting go and enjoying where you are right now. It allows you to take a gentle break from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Let your mindfulness practice fill you with the calm that is contained by being in the here and now and then watch how you and your world grows in peace and joy.
It’s time to explore a more mindful approach to life! Get your copy of Modern Mindfulness and kickstart your journey towards peace, clarity, and wellbeing. Plus you can do it from the comfort of your own home – no fancy meditation cushions or gongs required!