If you’ve ever found yourself operating on autopilot, meaning you’ve had moments where your muscle memory has completely overtaken conscious behavior, you are the perfect candidate for mindfulness meditation. Many of us are guilty of going through the motions because we don’t have time to take a breath and reflect on how we’re feeling or what we’re thinking in the moment. The good news? Mindfulness meditation is accessible to all and can be practiced no matter where you are.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully present and aware of your feelings and senses. By bringing your attention to the moment, you become more in tune with your experiences, thoughts, and emotions without any judgment or distractions. This in turn can help you feel less overwhelmed and better equipped to face challenges throughout your day.
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
There’s a variety of mental and physical benefits that come with practicing mindfulness meditation. Training yourself to think about how you’re feeling before you react can help you gain more control over how you choose to respond to difficult situations. It’s a shift in perspective, which can help combat stress as a result. Learning how to manage your stress can improve quality of sleep, help you build a stronger immune system, boost mood, and lead to greater happiness in general.
By being fully engaged in everyday life, the mind is presented with more clarity, focus, and better memory. There is also an increase of healthier habits built. These benefits can enrich relationships that you have with others and even the one you have with yourself.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
There are different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The idea presented around mindfulness meditation is finding what works best for you. There are no tools required to practice. A common way mindfulness meditation is done is to sit down and focus on the breath. However, many people who are new to the practice often have difficulty knowing where to start, so here are five steps to ease in.
5 Steps to Start Mindfulness Meditation
- Find a comfortable place to sit.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out.
- With eyes closed, acknowledge any and all thoughts you have and physical sensations you feel throughout your body.
- Let each acknowledgment go.
- Once you feel grounded and relaxed, open your eyes and repeat as needed throughout the day.
Oftentimes, people worry about overthinking during the practice. But mindfulness meditation isn’t about clearing the mind or silencing your thoughts, it is about bringing awareness to what you are experiencing. Your movements and breath should be in sync. If a thought comes to mind, acknowledge it and then let it go.
Another perk of mindfulness meditation is that it can be done in as little as five minutes to an hour, or as long as you’d like. And while meditation is the foundational practice to help you ground your thoughts and emotions, mindfulness should really be practiced throughout the day and every day.
Optimizing Your Practice
If a self-guided meditation isn’t working for you, try guided meditations instead. There are plenty of online resources available, including YouTube videos, that can help you build your practice. There are also wellness apps, such as Calm or Headspace, that offer both free and subscription-based meditations.
If there are certain scents or trinkets, such as candles, flowers, or photos that you associate with positivity, you can also surround yourself with those objects during your meditation. No matter how you choose to go about practicing mindfulness, make it a habit by sticking to a designated time each day, whether it’s first thing in the morning or part of your nighttime ritual before bed. Just like any other muscle in your body, training your brain is best done with constant practice.
Next time you feel like life is just passing you by, press pause to take in your surroundings and mentally note how you’re currently feeling. We could all use a self-check-in from time to time.