The Meaning of Mindfulness
What does mindfulness mean?
Mindfulness is the ability to be present at any given time, aware of our current surroundings, how we act and react to what's going on around us.
We all have a mindfulness ability deep inside of us, but this cannot be accessed without daily practice. If you have ever been in an argument and realised you're starting to raise your voice, you're being mindful and present. There're many situations in life where mindfulness can step in and help us. How can we benefit from mindfulness and where do we begin? Below is everything you need to get started.
7 Simple Steps to Mindfulness
There isn't a lot needed to start meditation. If you want, you can look at buying a cushion or a bench but you can simply use a chair, a sofa or even a bed. It's important to set time aside so you can have a quiet space to be mindful.
This is important, you want to feel relaxed and before you get into a mindfulness state. Be sure to find a spot that you can sit in for at least 20 minutes.
Take deep breaths.
Breathing is crucial, it's not just about breathing though, it's about how you breathe. Sometimes we use the sound of our breath to focus on whilst in meditation, this helps us with mindfulness by focusing on a particular thing. Taking deep breaths also helps with controlling and relaxing the body. Take several breaths and focus on counting down from five. Every time you breathe in, count to five. Every time you breathe out you count to five. Doing this will not only make you more present with your current breath but will also put you in a mindful state to calm you down and help you notice your surroundings to be more mindful and present.
Slowly close your eyes.
After taking the time to focus on your breathing, the next step is to slowly shut your eyes. If you don't feel comfortable closing your eyes, this isn't necessary. However, to get the best effect for meditation, closing your eyes would help.
If you're a beginner, it will be hard for you to focus on your breathing. The slightest noise around you may distract your attention and draw you away from the present. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and returning, to the present moment again and again. When you start to notice your mind roaming gently return your attention to the breath.
Mindfulness is about being aware of the new sensations in your body and noticing what thoughts are coming into your mind. Being mindful of this but not fully focusing on this, is the practice of meditation. It's ok to feel a new sensation or come across a random thought. Let them be and don’t judge yourself for whatever thought pops up. It's important to start recognising when your mind has wandered off, just bring it back to focusing on your breath.
Slowly lift your eyes.
Once you're ready, open up your eyes and just sit there for a moment and be mindful of how you're feeling right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. Be aware of what just happened. Note this down so the next time you go into a mindfulness state you can look back and see if any patterns are developing.
So that brings us to the end of the 7 simple steps you need to start being mindful. Many people think it's easy to be in the present, but the simple fact is, it's not. If you want to be mindful you need to put in the work, the results will then follow. If you're already a mindfulness pro then maybe you're looking at ways to improve mindfulness...
5 Meditation Methods that Improve Mindfulness
Below are some well-known meditation techniques to help you on your way to mindfulness. See which ones work best for you.
Mindful Awareness Technique:
If you're a beginner, the easiest way to be aware is to focus on your breath. However, rather than focusing on the breath, the awareness method includes letting the mind rest. Being able to let thoughts come and go. Instead of letting these thoughts distract you, just acknowledge that they are there and they will simply leave.
Mindfulness Visualisation Technique:
This techniques aim is to visualise and focus on something more unique and put all your attention on it. You want to familiarise yourself with an image that will help build and preserve a relaxed focus.
Mindful Body Scan Technique:
This technique connects with the mind to the body. Visualising the scanning of the body from head to toe. Notice how each body part feels when you work your way down, do you feel any sensations, aches or pains or even discomfort?
Mindfulness Noting Technique:
his is a common mindfulness technique. When you start to become distracted 'note' what the distractions were, why they came up and if it could be useful to you or not. Taking 'notes' helps to free up space in the mind and you soon start to learn more about yourself and your habits.
This method is all about questions. It can be, “What are you most grateful for?”, "What have I done today that has benefited me for tomorrow?". It's important to be aware of the feeling, that comes to mind when you ask yourself these questions.
The benefits of mindfulness:
There is a lot of talk and hype around mindfulness and meditation. However, we don't meditate for fun, there are a few benefits that come with being mindful. Here are five reasons to exercise mindfulness.
Understand your pain. Mindfulness helps you reshape your connection with mental and physical pain.
Connect better. Mindfulness helps you build your full attention.
Lower stress. No one wants to be stressed in life. However, mindfulness decreases stress.
Improves Focus. Reflection sharpens our ability to focus.
Give this beginner mindfulness practise a go
Headspace offers a free version of its online app. The method is designed to sharpen your concentration skills, reduce stress, anxiety, and get rid of negative emotions.
Free mindfulness meditation video:
Mindfulness has proven to have many benefits. From benefiting your physical health and mental state to managing stress and anxiety. One of the best things about mindfulness though is the fact that we can delve into this state almost anywhere.
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