Starting anything requires the proper research so you understand what you are getting into overall. This applies to a new diet, a new business, and even things like meditation and mindfulness. You must understand the basics to engage in this activity appropriately and to gain the most benefits. Below is a guide for beginners who want to learn about mindfulness. Keep in mind that meditation is not for a specific religion, person, or culture. It can be useful for anyone as long as it is approached correctly. Obtaining knowledge of mindfulness meditation is a way to kick start beginners with this healthy practice.
There are many different types of meditation practices and mindfulness is among them. In mindfulness meditation, concentration and awareness are combined to help you focus on your sensations, thoughts, and feelings without judging but simply observing. Defined by an expert, mindfulness is an awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in a non-judgmental way within the present moment. Think of it like watching a movie you are really focused on in which you cry when it is sad, laugh when it is funny, and then realize it is all just a movie. Mindfulness is about being aware of these thoughts and feelings, positive and negative, without trying to change or judge it, but acknowledging it. The most crucial component of mindfulness is attention or awareness as it is often referred. The awareness must be intentional, consciously focusing on something specific like a headache, a flower, or your breath. Being non-judgmental means there is no perfect way to be mindful, but if your mind wonders, gently bring it back to the experience of that moment.
Mindful Meditation Practices for Beginners
Mindfulness is uncomfortable at first because you are retraining your mind. Below are a few ways to prepare for a mindfulness session.
- Set a regular time for a daily practice – Set aside a time when you are fully alert with minimal distractions. From the beginning, hold yourself accountable in some way, like marking a calendar after completing a session.
- When getting started – Beginners will not be able to meditate for 20 minutes off the bat so start out with five minutes for a few days and build up in five-minute intervals every few days. Extended periods will come from practice and be more beneficial.
- Choose a comfortable seat or floor that supports proper posture, adding a cushion if necessary.
Mindfulness Meditation Practice
Mindfulness may be simple, but it is not easy. Try these exercises below that are made for beginners.
- Let your attention be wide and open
- Without judging, focus on what is going on around you at the moment, using all five senses
- After 60 seconds, focus only on your breathing
- Breath mindfulness is great for beginners because it is a focus on air moving in and out of the nose, throat, and lungs
- If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the focus on your breathing
- After 60 seconds of focus on breathing, widen the scope once again
- This involves purposefully narrowing and widening perspective to practice mindfulness
- With this exercise on awareness over concentration, watch the thoughts that come to mind for a few minutes
- Do not try to change these thoughts, just let the mind wander and follow them judgment free
- Select a piece of music
- Use headphones and close your eyes
- Listen to each part of the music without response or judgment
- Focus on the music to tune into what you hear at the moment
- Sit comfortably on a solid, stable surface
- Concentrate on the lower half (legs, feet, bottom)
- If on the floor, cross your legs with your knees at or below hip level
- If on a chair or bench, keep your feet on the floor, flat
- Shift concentration to the torso and upper body. Sit straight, but relaxed allowing the arms to hang naturally
- Drop the chin and gaze slightly to feel the relaxation wash over you
- Focus on the mind and body at the same time and feel the contact with the surfaces you are touching
- Focus on your breathing and as thoughts come to mind, let them come and go
- Take one last breath in and out fully, opening the eyes fully
Benefits of Mindfulness
Knowing how to be mindful can bring on numerous benefits. Some of these benefits include:
- Sharpening concentration
- Reducing stress
- Enhancing communication
- Treating depression and pain
- Enhanced psychological well-being
- Improved sleep
- Keeping a schedule
- Calmness in stressful situations
- Ability to change awareness
- Stress management
- Feeling present and alive
While some activities require us to think critically, others require us to quiet our minds. Mindfulness is a mental muscle that makes this easier. This does not mean your mind is blank, but that you can shift your mind to the present moment. Since mindfulness is not instantly learned, have patience, commitment, and be willing to practice. The benefits will come if you stick with it for at least a month.