The cultivation of mindfulness is a long process but it is a practice that allows you to open your mind to your inner feelings. It instils an enhanced level of consciousness in you about the present.
Unlike yoga, mindfulness does not require you to seclude yourself from the world. Mindfulness can be practiced exactly where you are as long as you are able to concentrate on the present and be aware of the situation. While walking you can concentrate on every step you take and concentrate on your feelings during the process to achieve mindfulness. So mindfulness allows you to live in the moment and be more attentive and aware of your lives.
Stress can be a productive element that helps our mind foster creativity and leads to positive results. But high levels of stress can have detrimental effects on our body. Anxiety and stress can have many detrimental effects on the nervous system and they can affect the quality of our lives.
Recent studies have highlighted the importance of mindfulness in helping to combat stress by clearing your mind and body of intrusive thoughts. Meditation is a good way to achieve mindfulness and many individuals prefer to practice mindfulness during meditation and other mental exercises.
It has been observed that about 10% Australians will be affected by some kind of anxiety-related disorder at some point in their life. Therefore it’s important we raise awareness among the general population to take simple measures like cultivating mindfulness in their everyday life to combat stress.
Meditation for beginners
While living life at a lightning-fast pace, we forget to take out time and notice the little things that escape our field of vision everyday. Meditation brings us closer to our mind. Through meditation, you can place your mind at rest after a hectic day and reflect upon your thoughts, feelings and sensations to achieve an insight that puts on a higher pedestal of personal wellbeing.
Besides juggling deadlines and hectic timetables, you should make an effort to take some time out for pure indulgence in a tranquil focused state. This will ensure that you allow your mind to pause and ponder while detached from the stresses of day-to-day living.
Meditation can be defined as what is quiet and lives in the stillness of our hearts. Most individuals harbour many misconceptions about meditation. It must be emphasised that being religious is not a requirement for achieving meditation. If you are a beginner at meditation you may feel difficulty in releasing your mind from the grip of intrusive and irrelevant thoughts in the process. You may feel like you are flying off on a tangent of your thoughts or day dreaming which may leave you frustrated about where to start off all over again. A complete command over your mind and thoughts during meditation comes with practice but here are a few tips about how to meditate.
How to meditate
There are no specific rules that dictate exactly how you should meditate. Meditation allows you to feel centred in this world, find your true place in this universe, discover your destiny and purpose of living therefore the experience of meditation is different for different people. Here are a few simple tips to help you meditate:
Meditate in a comfortable place: There are different schools of thoughts about what an appropriate place to meditate should be. But most of them are of the opinion that it a place that instils a comfortable sensation is best for this activity. While meditating, you are moving away from chaos of your daily lives and putting your mind in a peaceful indulgence. This place can be chosen according to your personal preference as long as it provides the quiet and tranquil atmosphere.
- Start with short sessions: It is rather unrealistic to imagine that you can achieve a command over meditation overnight. It is a time consuming process but you can begin with brief sessions of meditation. You can begin meditating five minutes a day and then move on to longer sessions. Research shows that even a mere 12 minutes of meditation can have a positive effect on your mind.
- Choose a quiet surrounding: Most experts are of the opinion that meditating is most successful when performed in a quiet atmosphere. Silence is a good way to put your mind to rest and indulge in the experience of connecting with yourself. For beginners, utter silence may become disturbing so a melodious soft music in the background can provide the apt setting to begin meditating.
- Adopt a mantra while you breathe: It is recommended that you used breathing exercises to help you meditate. Deep inhaling and exhaling will help you with the practice. Observe your breaths like watching waves in the sea. One helpful technique has been suggested by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh who suggested that beginners should mentally add the word “arriving” when they breathe in and “home” as they breathe out. The individuals should gradually let these words guide them into a state of focus on the present moment while balancing the rhythmic breathing with it. By indulging in this active form of meditation, you are also stopping buzzing thoughts from disturbing your session.
- Use gentle movements to stop you from fidgeting: Most beginners complain that they have a problem maintaining their poise while they meditate. Most practitioners recommend that you relax your body and maintain a comfortable posture when you begin to meditate. If this is difficult you can try gentle movements like touching your thumb with your fingers or moving your head in small circles to relax your body.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness based stress reduction brings together the concept of mindfulness and meditation in a 8-week training. Mindfulness is a practice that cultivates greater awareness of the way unconscious thoughts, behaviour and feelings can affect our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Stress, anxiety and related disorders have been connected to our mind.
Meditation has long been shown to have an effect on a range of autonomic physiological processes like lowering blood pressure and emotional reactions. Restoring a balanced mental state would require you to have increased awareness about your body, mind and soul. This stress reduction program has been founded by Dr. Zon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 and has been mentioned in his bestselling book, Full Catastrophe Living. Since its introduction, various studies have shown that MBSR reduces stress, anxiety and help with sleep problems.
MBSR is a program that teaches you to calm your mind and deal with stress and illness in the process. MBSR teaches you to focus on the present. For example, while eating you may focus on the texture or the smell of the food only. This program trains you to focus on the present so that you don’t have any regrets or worries about the past or the future.
A class in MBSR will teach you to focus on your entire body and observe your breathing movements. Then you are asked to focus on the thoughts that are running in your mind at the present moment without judging them. This will help you develop a heightened level of awareness about yourself and help your mind and body relax. You can try MBSR everyday while doing simple tasks like eating, jogging or breathing. All you have to do is focus on the present and connect with your thoughts.
Do you meditate or practise mindfulness? Share your mindfulness tips in the comments below.
If you’re interested in learning mindfulness or meditation, check out Openground Training and Consulting, who run MBSR courses teaching mindfulness and meditation throughout Australia.