Mindfulness Meditation: Simple Steps to Practice to Improve Your Well-Being
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that helps you to focus your mind on the present moment. It is a powerful tool that can help you to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and improve your overall wellbeing. Here is a complete guide to mindfulness meditation, including how to practice and its benefits.
In this article we will explore the concept of mindfulness meditation, explaining what it is and how it can benefit our mental and physical health. It includes information about scientific research on the topic, as well as anecdotal evidence from people who have incorporated mindfulness into their daily routines. The article could also offer practical tips for those interested in starting a mindfulness practice, such as recommended meditation techniques. Scroll down to read: 10 TIPS FOR STARTING MINDFUL MEDITATION
What is meditation?
For the Buddhist monk
Meditation “essentially allows you to learn to know yourself better and to cultivate an optimal way of being, focused on happiness and altruism”. Meditation is also “avoiding becoming a slave to the flow of negative thoughts that flood the mind”.
Because many of our thoughts are superfluous, even downright harmful: we dwell on it, we create disaster scenarios, we worry… These thoughts poison our minds and distance us from ourselves. They create stress which, in turn, creates its share of problems.
Meditating is not about fighting these thoughts, but rather about letting go: it is about accepting them with kindness, without being captivated by them.
There are many meditation techniques: Vipassana meditation, transcendental meditation, active Osho meditations, tantric meditations, etc.
It can be seen as the “base” of all forms of meditation: simply being there, in the present moment, without judgment and welcoming all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that come. It allows you to be fully aware of yourself and others, at every moment of your existence.
Meditation can be practiced standing, sitting, walking, eyes open or closed, silently or by repeating a word, the mind focused on an image, on its breathing.
What is the Mindfulness Meditation exactly?
Mindfulness meditation trains our ability to pay attention and discern what is present in the moment (our thoughts, our emotions, our physical sensations, but also the environment and relationships) by integrating a dimension of ethics and kindness.
It is a practice accessible to all which is learned through formal meditations (meditation) or informal practices (presence in daily activities). Its learning, through programs based on Mindfulness that unfold over several weeks such as MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) or MBCT(Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), allows it to be fully integrated into one’s daily life, as a new way of living by being fully present.
What does it change for me, if I practice it?
Training your attention allows you to live fully, being more present and more aware. The practice of Mindfulness makes it possible to contact our internal resources, our capacity for resilience to stress, our clarity of mind, our inner calm, our freedom from the usual reactive patterns, our benevolence. It is the relationship we have to ourselves, to others and to the world that can gradually change and calm down, by seeing and understanding more clearly what is at the root of our stress and dissatisfaction.
For 30 years, scientific research has been interested in programs based on Mindfulness which, organized according to a precise protocol, facilitate the replication of studies. Science has thus brought to light many health benefits (stress reduction and resilience to stress, better emotional regulation, concentration, neuroplasticity, etc.) as well as multiple stress-related pathologies (chronic pain, inflammation, psoriasis, hypertension, etc.).
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:
There are many benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation. Here are a few:
- Reduces stress and anxiety: Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by helping you to relax and focus your mind.
- Improves sleep quality: Practicing mindfulness meditation before bed can help you to relax and fall asleep more easily.
- Increases self-awareness: Mindfulness meditation helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can help you to make better decisions and improve your relationships.
- Enhances focus and concentration: Practicing mindfulness meditation regularly can help you to improve your focus and concentration.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to practice mindfulness meditation:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit.
- Sit with your back straight, your eyes closed, and your hands resting in your lap.
- Focus your attention on your breath. Observe the sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils.
- If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Continue to observe your breath for a few minutes or as long as you like.
Understanding the Practice
Mindfulness meditation is a technique that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Here are some important points to consider when practicing mindfulness meditation:
- Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and increase overall wellbeing.
- It involves focusing your attention on your breath, body sensations, or a specific object, and bringing your attention back to the present moment when your mind wanders.
- Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Practices for Mindfulness Meditation
Here are some practices that you can use to enhance your mindfulness meditation practice:
- Body scan: This practice involves focusing your attention on different parts of your body, one at a time, and observing any sensations you feel. This can help you to become more aware of your body and reduce tension.
- Walking meditation: This practice involves walking slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the sensations in your feet and legs. This can help you to improve your focus and concentration.
- Loving-kindness meditation: This practice involves sending positive thoughts and emotions to yourself and others. This can help to reduce negative feelings and improve relationships.
- When you notice your mind wandering during mindfulness meditation, simply observe the thought or feeling without judgment and bring your attention back to your breath.
- If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness meditation can help you feel more calm and centered.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes or gaze softly at a fixed point.
- Focus on your breath and observe the sensation of air flowing in and out of your body.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- Continue for a few minutes or as long as you like.
Incorporating Mindfulness Meditation into Your Daily Routine: Tips and Techniques
Incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily routine can help you feel more present and focused throughout the day. Here are some tips and techniques to help you get started:
- Start with just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation each day and gradually increase the amount of time you spend practicing.
- Experiment with different techniques, such as body scans, guided meditations, or visualization exercises, to find what works best for you.
- Find a regular time and place to practice mindfulness meditation, such as first thing in the morning or before bed.
- Practicing mindfulness meditation during your daily commute can help you feel more calm and centered before starting your day.
- Taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness meditation before bed can help you relax and improve sleep quality.
- Set aside a regular time and place for mindfulness meditation.
- Choose a technique that works for you, such as focusing on your breath, body sensations, or a specific object.
- Start with a few minutes of practice each day and gradually increase the amount of time you spend meditating.
- Use mindfulness techniques throughout the day, such as taking a few deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Relief: Managing Daily Challenges with Mindful Awareness
Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful tool for managing stress and cultivating a sense of calm and balance.
Here are some ways to use mindfulness meditation to manage daily challenges:
- Practice mindful breathing when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, focusing on the sensation of air flowing in and out of your body.
- Use mindfulness techniques to stay present and focused during daily tasks, such as washing dishes or walking the dog.
- Take a few minutes to practice mindfulness meditation before important meetings or events to help you feel more centered and grounded.
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, take a few deep breaths and focus on the sensation of air flowing in and out of your body.
When you’re doing a daily task, such as washing dishes, focus on the sensations of the water and soap on your hands, rather than letting your mind wander.
Identify daily challenges or stressors that you would like to manage with mindfulness meditation.
Use a technique such as mindful breathing or body scan to help you stay present and centered during these challenges.
Scientific research on Mindfulness Meditation
There has been a significant amount of scientific research conducted on the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Here are a few examples of studies and their findings:
- A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Link: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1809754
- Another study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that mindfulness meditation can improve attention and cognitive performance. Link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116/full
- A meta-analysis published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and improve overall psychological health. Link: https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2012/07000/What_Is_the_Empirical_Basis_for_Mindfulness_.2.aspx
- A study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality in people with insomnia. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6557693/
These studies, and many others, demonstrate the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on various aspects of mental health and well-being.
10 TIPS FOR STARTING MINDFUL MEDITATION
Here are a few points on how to practice mindfulness meditation.
You can opt for the position of the tailor or that of the lotus. In both cases, sit on a carpet (to spare your feet and ankles). Sit on a small cushion. There are two types of lotus position:
the half lotus: legs crossed, left foot against the perineum, right foot above the calf or even the thigh
the whole lotus: legs crossed, the left foot on the right thigh and the right foot on the left thigh. This position is often difficult to hold if you are not used to it, so do not insist if you are not comfortable.
But if you don’t like the lotus position, you can choose the sitting position. There is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, many meditation experts recommend it for beginners and I fully share this opinion.
In this case, sit on a chair or sofa, back straight, feet flat on the ground. Legs against each other. Hands resting on knees. The back should not lean against the backrest, but remain straight.
It is not recommended to practice mindfulness meditation lying down, as it promotes falling asleep.
It is important during meditation to find the right balance for your body. This balance of the body will promote the balance of the mind.
So you should be relaxed, but not too much. Your back should stay straight, not slouch during meditation. However, you do not have to stay tense and contracted throughout the exercise to stay straight. Lengthen the spine, find the right back inclination that will allow you to stay straight without too much effort. Hold this position, and relax the rest of the body.
3. CLOSED OR OPEN EYES
The most common is to practice meditation with your eyes closed. But some experts, like Fabrice Midal, recommend meditating with your eyes open.
In this case have, like the Buddha statues, your eyes half open. Let your gaze settle on a point in front of you on the ground. Don’t look around. Just let your gaze rest.
Try eyes closed and eyes open and just choose what you like best.
4. WHAT NEXT? WHAT DO I DO ?
Contrary to many popular beliefs, meditation is not about not thinking about anything.
Mindfulness meditation is all about keeping your attention in the present moment and observing the faint signals around you. So don’t try to empty your mind. But rather let thoughts, sensations, feelings pass without dwelling on them.
5. INNER AND OUTER SENSATIONS
During your meditation, the important thing is to keep your attention in the present moment. So she can dwell on two types of sensations:
- Inner sensations: your feelings, thoughts, anxieties, which will flood your mind as you go. Let those thoughts come, write them down, don’t judge them, don’t judge yourself, and let them go.
- External sensations: these are those provided by your body, and by your senses (hearing, touch, taste, etc.). Note the sounds around you, the movements of air, the feelings of discomfort in your body. As with thoughts, notice these feelings, don’t judge them. Let them go…
6. THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL ATTITUDES
According to Christophe André, a famous doctor-psychiatrist who brought meditation into the hospital, mindfulness can be broken down into three fundamental attitudes:
- The maximum opening of the attentional field, in other words everything that is present in the mind minute after minute: breathing, bodily sensations, sounds, emotions, thoughts…
- The disengagement of tendencies to judge, control, or direct this experience of the present moment.
- The “non-elaborative” consciousness in which one does not seek to analyze or put into words, but rather to observe and experience.
7. WHEN YOUR THOUGHTS ASSAULT YOU
When you are overwhelmed by emotions, worries, your brain resumes its usual whirlwind of thoughts:
- Don’t judge yourself, don’t blame yourself, it’s completely normal to get carried away by thoughts
- Write down these thoughts, mentally put a “post-it” on them
- Let them go
- Refocus on the present moment
- Hook your attention to a detail (your breathing, your body, a regular noise) to help you refocus your attention in the present
In the beginning, you will often get carried away by your thoughts. But don’t be discouraged. Gradually you will manage to focus your attention better and better…
8. SET A DURATION BEFORE YOU START
Personally, I recommend, at least for beginners, to set a duration and set an alarm before starting the meditation. Indeed, when we meditate, time flies completely differently. The risk is therefore to wonder every 2 minutes how long we have been meditating.
So to avoid this disturbance, set yourself a time in advance to meditate, and program an alarm on your phone. So your thoughts will not be disturbed by the measurement of time. Your phone will take care of informing you that you have reached the desired duration (without obligation to stop at this moment of course!)
9. PRACTICE REGULARLY
To progress in meditation, and feel its effects, you have to practice regularly. 10 minutes a day is a very good pace to obtain noticeable effects, without getting discouraged by a practice that would take too long and be difficult to fit into a busy schedule.
10 minutes a day to fit into your diary is nothing at all. It’s time to read an article or smoke a cigarette. Of course you can practice more if you wish!
10. SET YOURSELF A SCHEDULE
In order to keep this good resolution and to practice your 10 minutes a day, I recommend that you devote a fixed and non-variable time slot to it. Otherwise the risk is to push back each time thanks to the famous “I will do it later”.
Set yourself a daily schedule, or better couple mindfulness meditation before or after another activity that you practice every day like brushing your teeth, taking your shower….
Integrate meditation into a morning routine, like the Miracle Morning, and the effect will be explosive, as I tell you in the article “Miracle Morning, the method that will make you love the morning”!
Photo credit: via Pixabay
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