Practicing mindfulness meditation for beginners
Cultivating calm promotes emotional and situational awareness which is easily achieved through mindfulness meditation. These techniques help manage our busy lives by reducing anxiety and stress.
Being mindful can take many forms. Through observing the things around us, be it eating mindfully, performing body scans, paying attention to your surroundings, breathing with intent, listening with care or applying mindfulness for better sleep, Taking small measures in our daily lives can have significant stress relieving and health boosting benefits. Try incorporating the following into you daily life for drastic changes to your wellbeing.
Mindful eating: eating mindfully incorporates more than just the sense of taste. Choose a food. Give yourself the time to examine it. Pay attention to what it looks like. How it smells. Experience the texture and taste. Focus on it and experience it. Notice how your mind indulges in every sense during the experience of eating.
Body scan: performing body scans can be simpler than it seems. Close your eyes for several minutes and notice what goes on within your body. Pay attention to sensations you would normally ignore. Focus on and explore these sensations. Allow your mind to focus on each part of yourself and how you feel.
Mindful walking: mindful walking is more than just pacing yourself as you walk; it is paying attention to your surroundings. Focus on what it is to be in motion. Acknowledge and absorb your surroundings. Look around you and consider what you see and hear and smell. Put aside doubts and worries and live in the moment as you move from place to place.
Mindful breathing: start by taking a deep breath, noticing how the air moves from your nose to your lungs, expands your chest and fills you. As you breathe out, notice how the air leaves you and empties your lungs. Be aware of each breath and focus on the sensations breathing brings and how you feel with every breath. Breathing with intent can bring inner peace and calm, as you slow yourself down and experience life in its smallest moments.
Mindful listening: mindful listening is listening with care, which developes active listening. Spend time with your eyes closed in any environment and absorb the sounds around you. Try to place them mentally without looking. With time you will be able to listen mindfully in any environment, an important skill to help you grow spiritually and professionally.
Being mindful for better sleep: when you close your eyes to sleep, focus on your body and mind. Consider the warmth of the blanket, the softness of the pillow, each breath you take and each thought you have. Reflect upon how your body feels and anything going through your mind. Doing so will help you to be more aware of how you feel before sleep and will promote better rest, and better health overall.
4-7-8 Breath Relaxation Exercise
Anyone can do it! This is a simple and quick exercise routine with no equipment needed.
Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. Exhale through your mouth around your tongue. Purse your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to the count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
This is one breath. Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times, for a total of four breaths.
Are numbers important?
The total time you spend on each phase is not important; just keep the ratio of 4:7:8. With practice you can slow down and begin inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
Why should I do it?
This technique is a natural relaxer for your entire body. Use this skill whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react emotionally. You can also use it any time you are aware of internal tension, or even to help you fall asleep.
Try this technique at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. You may feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, but don’t be concerned – it will pass.