WHAT IS MINDFULNESS MEDITATION?
Mindfulness Meditation teaches you the skill of being in the present moment while your mind wanders off in the past memory or any future planning. At that moment bring your awareness back to your breath. It’s a spot where you can rest and settle your wandering mind. Mindfulness meditation is a training of the mind to teach you to pay attention to “the now” so you can accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without any judgment.
With consistent practice of mindfulness technique, you can slow down racing thoughts, let go of negative thoughts, and soothe your mind and body. To practice mindfulness meditation you don't need any prop or preparation (like candles, essential oils, or mantras). To get started, all you need is a quiet and comfortable place to sit, a few moments of free time, and a judgment-free mindset.
How can you Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life?
Life is too busy to carve out a time to sit and practice mindfulness meditation. No worries, you can even bring mindfulness into your day-to-day life. Our everyday activities and tasks offer plenty of opportunities for mindfulness practice.
While brushing your teeth, be aware of your feet on the floor, conscious of the smell and taste of toothpaste, the brush holding in your hand, and the movement of your arm moving up, down, and left & right.
Pay attention to the temperature of the water on your hands, how the bubbles look, and the sounds of the dishes clunking on the bottom of the sink.
Feel the smell of the washed clothes and the texture of the fabric. Now count your breaths as you fold laundry.
Pay full attention to chopping, slicing, whipping, or kneading. It could be stirring or mixing spices to food or smelling food. Whenever you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to the kitchen.
Instead of listening to the music while workout, pay attention to your breath and the movement of your body in each exercise.
What are The types of Mindfulness Meditation?
Types of mindfulness meditation can vary, but in general, this meditation technique involves conscious breathing and awareness of mind and body. The goal of every mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by consciously paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to ground itself to the present moment. Following are different techniques which are a form of mindfulness meditation.
Mindful breathing, widely known as breathing meditation, is a very basic yet effective mindfulness meditation practice. The idea is simply to bring your awareness to the natural rhythm and flow of your breathing. Focus your attention on the way each breath feels every time you inhale and exhale. Paying attention to the breath is specifically helpful because it serves as an anchor–something you can bring your awareness to at any time if you start to feel puzzled, anxious or carried away by any heavy emotions.
It may help you to focus on the expansion of your chest in all directions on each inhalation and contraction to the center again on each exhalation. You may watch the sensation through your nostrils. As you may find it helpful to focus on your breath while you observe that your mind wanders, distracted by any bodily sensations, thoughts, or feelings. That’s quite normal in the beginning. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. The best part of this mindfulness practice is that you don't need any teacher to guide you through it, as it can be easily practiced alone.
Walking meditation or mindful walk is an active form of meditation where walking guides you into a deeper connection with your body and the present moment. This meditation practice is good for people who find peace in movement and want to develop body awareness. Mindful walking may help you to feel more grounded, balanced, and serene. It also helps you to develop an awareness of your thoughts, body and surroundings. It involves deliberately taking each of your steps. Typically during walking meditation, the pace is slow and you walk back and forth in a straight line or in a circle.
Walking meditation can be practiced either indoors or outside in nature. Try to notice the basic components of each step like how you lift your one foot, the forward movement of your lifted foot, the placing of the foot on the floor with the heel touching first. Finally, the shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground. Walking meditation can be a boon for people who are into a sedentary lifestyle and sit for longer periods. Practicing mindful walking helps to boost blood circulation and raise energy levels.
Body Scanning Meditation
Body scan meditation is a type of mindfulness meditation that is great to release any tension or ache in your body that you might not even be aware of. When you mentally scan your body, you bring awareness to each part of your body, witnessing any tension, aches, or general discomfort. The goal of scanning yourself is not to relieve the pain completely, but to get to know and learn from it so you can better manage it. The body scan is one of the most powerful ways to begin a mindfulness meditation practice. The purpose of this type of mindfulness meditation is to train the mind to be more open and aware of sensory experiences—and ultimately, more accepting.
Body scanning involves bringing awareness to different parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual sequence from head to feet or vice versa. The motive is to tune in to your body—to reconnect to your physical self—and notice any sensations you’re feeling without judgment. Body scan meditation can be done by sitting or lying down on your back. Pay attention to any sensations, emotions, or thoughts associated with each part of your body. If any physical sensations, pain, or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
5 Senses Exercise
5 Senses Exercise is a simple mindfulness exercise to witness what you are experiencing right now through any or all of your five senses: sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell. Our 5 senses are the window to the world; we experience life through these senses. Yet, in our day-to-day routine, we remain busy making meaning of whatever we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. This is necessary and a vital part of survival! Every sensory experience is so unique in itself. Keeping this in mind, the 5 senses mindfulness exercise involves paying attention to each sense at a time. This meditation involves isolating one sense at a time and being aware of whatever comes into your notice through that sense. Throughout this exercise, you do not have to necessarily detect a particular smell or taste. Rather, it is just to be conscious of whatever sensation is there in the current moment. It is important to spend 3-4 minutes with each sense and then move to the next sense.
What are The Challenges in Mindfulness Meditation?
Many people who practice mindfulness admit that this meditation can offer challenges. The practice requires consistency as its impacts can be better felt over time, and discipline to train the monkey mind to keep coming back to the present, without judgment. It’s really a herculean task for most people to focus on the present and the wandering of the mind can lead to stress and even suffering.
Mindfulness is not about controlling your thoughts or emotions, despite noticing them without any judgment. Mindfulness builds resilience and awareness to aid people to learn how to ride life’s ups and downs and live happier and healthier lives. Regardless of the popularity of mindfulness, numerous people still think the practice involves emptying the mind, taking mini-naps, or going into trances. Beginners or new students often fall asleep, feel uneasy, struggle with random thoughts or emotions, and become bored or distracted. Experienced practitioners recommend practicing the process in a group with an instructor.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation?
At times there are lots of things racing through our minds, it can be challenging to concentrate on tasks at work or even hobbies like reading a book. Meditation centers your mind so you can concentrate on what you need to get done. Mindfulness trains the mind to remain in the present moment and fully focus on a particular activity. By practicing this meditation technique you can learn to let go of all thoughts and distractions.
Break bad habits:
Whether it’s smoking or shopping too much, the practice of mindfulness brings awareness to your actions at that moment and helps you break the cycle of a bad habit. Mindfulness meditation makes letting go of bad habits easier and developing a good habit.
Reduce heart rate:
The sympathetic system is responsible for raising the heart rate, raising blood pressure and the parasympathetic nervous system reduces heart rate causing longer beats. Mindfulness Meditation regulates the heart rate by maintaining a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. It may also play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease and reducing the stress hormones and adrenaline, improved breathing, and blood flow to the brain.
Regular practice of mindfulness meditation for a certain period of time may reduce stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion, and psychological distress. It brings a sense of calm to the mind and body that can reduce stress. This meditation helps the body to repair itself and prevents any damage from the physical effects of stress. Just a few minutes of meditation can leave one feeling invigorated and calm.
Our outer world often acts as a mirror to our hidden thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Being self-aware gives you the power to monitor your inner world — your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation helps to develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self. This meditation trains your attention to notice subtle, yet important signals, and to watch your thoughts as they arise rather than just being swept away by them.
Sleeping deficiency can increase the risk for mood and anxiety disorders and stress. With consistent practice of mindfulness meditation, you can cure insomnia and improve sleep quality. The practice of mindfulness meditation can help to reduce cortisol and increase the production of the sleep hormones melatonin and serotonin (precursor of melatonin), which helps to regulate sleep-wake cycling.
Manage chronic pain:
Mindfulness meditation stimulates areas of the brain that are associated with processing pain, so the regular practice of mindfulness can help you cope with chronic pain. Many research has shown that even a short amount of meditation can boost pain tolerance and reduce pain-related anxiety.