What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of learning to become aware in the present moment; being able to notice our feelings and emotions together with our responses as they happen. Practicing mindfulness is something we can do at any time; when doing the gardening, walking in the park, or even at work.
In time, we can catch ourselves out, discovering behavior patterns that we don’t really want or emotional responses that surprise us; helping us to make positive changes.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of being still, being in the moment, aware of our thoughts, emotions, and feelings, in a non-judgmental way. It can be difficult to practice, because, in mindfulness meditation, we try to be with ourselves, and face the difficult thoughts and feelings that we are so often distracted from, i.e. TV, music, working, playing, etc.
It has been described as an exercise for the brain. The more one practices, the greater one’s awareness develops, and the better we can control our responses and emotions. The focus of mindfulness meditation is to train the brain to stay in the moment.
Where can Mindfulness meditation be practiced?
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced at any time of the day, in any situation, and can be practiced anywhere one feels safe to do so; in one’s home, or the park. The most important thing is that for best results, one should find somewhere quiet, and feel comfortable when sitting.
Who can do Mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation can be practiced by just about anyone. However, people suffering from a serious mental health condition including dissociation, borderline personality disorder should talk to their doctor before attempting to practice.
When can you do Mindfulness?
Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can be practiced at any time of the day.
Why is Mindfulness meditation helpful?
In meditation, we give ourselves space, without the constant drumming of noises or visual dramas that unfold around us. We have a true time to be with ourselves and absorb calmness.
Just sitting comfortably with our eyes closed, and listening to our own breath can reduce heart rate and anxiety. By being mindful whilst meditating, we start to listen to our own bodies, observe our thoughts and feelings. If we try to give ourselves compassion whilst meditating when we inevitably drift into thoughts, instead of the constant barrage of judgment, we can develop greater levels of empathy. By observing our feelings when we feel pain, we can choose to change our feelings about it.
How to do to Mindfulness-meditation
You do not need to sit like the Buddha, in a lotus position, and unless you have practiced yoga or Pilates, I would suggest sitting on a firm chair with your feet firmly on the floor. If this is difficult, because of height, place a cushion below your feet. Don’t lean back in the chair, just use it for gentle support. You don’t want to collapse into the chair, but you do want to let go of tense muscles, so you can feel relaxed. If you put your mind to an area two fingers below our navel, you can activate your psoas muscle, the “core muscle”, to keep you straight. If you scan your body with your mind, you check to see if there are any tense muscles and actively try to release them, and doing your best to breathe consciously always, (remember, compassion, not judgment). If you think you will be cold, ensure you have a blanket to hand, and most importantly, ensure that your phone has been turned off. You can set an alarm on your phone if you wish, keeping the phone in “airplane” mode.
Some people choose to meditate standing, (that type of meditation can be explored in a future blog), but its best to start with sitting. It is not recommended to meditate lying down, as this position will make you feel sleepy, and is likely to make you fall asleep. Of course, it is common for people to fall asleep during meditation anyway, especially if we become really relaxed. Again, in mindfulness meditation, we don’t judge ourselves. If we realize we have fallen asleep, we just come back to the practice and continue. It doesn’t matter if we spend 29 minutes out of a 30-minute meditation trying to stay awake or stop thinking. Even the one minute of staying in the moment can feel powerful. Remember, if you consider mindfulness meditation as an exercise in the gym, you expect the first few times you use a machine to be difficult, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes and the longer you can practice for and greater the level one can attain.