Beginning a Mindful Meditation Practice
Updated: Nov 17, 2017
"The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large." - Confucius
The practice of Mindfulness Meditation is commonly recommended as a way to start one's day or as a beneficial part of a daily routine to help with relaxation. Interested in incorporating a meditation practice into your own life but curious about what it can do for your overall well-being or where to start?
Mindfulness meditation can:
Improve overall health
Improve focus and concentration
Create a more positive outlook through better self-awareness
There are so many different kinds of meditation but they are all generally categorized as either focused attention meditation or open monitoring meditation. One of the most well-known forms of open monitoring meditation is mindfulness meditation. It is an adaptation from traditional Buddhist meditation, particularly Vipassana. “Mindfulness” is a western translation for the Buddhist term "sati" which forms part of the term anapansati, (mindfulness of breathing). Anapansati is part of the Buddhist practice of Vipassana, (insight meditation). Mindfulness meditation is one of the most accessible and pleasant ways to begin if you are new to meditation or finding other types of meditation a challenge.
To begin your own mindfulness meditation practice:
Set aside an amount of time for your practice that feels right to you. This can be 5 minutes or much longer as you develop a more regular practice
Find a comfortable and quiet place when you can sit comfortably upright. This can be sitting on a sofa, chair, your bed or cross-legged on the floor.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and as you exhale, visualize all tension leaving your body.
Allow your breath to return to a regular, natural rate.
Focus your attention onto your breath
Choose an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your body or your how your body moves as you inhale and exhale.
Whenever you feel distracted or your attention moving to new thoughts, go back to observing your breath and feeling your inhalations and exhalations.
If you experience unpleasant thoughts or emotions, acknowledge them and release them returning your focus to your breathing.
Continue to keep your focus on your natural breathing rate for the duration of your meditation
When you are finished, gently shift your focus from your breath to other parts of your body
Return your focus to the room around you and open your eyes
Developing a regular practice is important in creating long-term results from meditation. However, even one minute of mindfulness meditation when you are feeling stressed or anxious can be an immediate tool for relief. A one-minute session can activate your parasympathetic nervous system which in turn, will trigger your relaxation response. This is achieved by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure in an effective manner. For this technique, you will use a 4-8 breathing pattern.
Inhale to an internal count of 4
Exhale to an internal count of 8
When you breathe in this manner, the exhale is longer than the inhale. This enables your body to send a signal to your brain to go into its rest mode. This is a great tool for particularly stressful situations and interactions. In addition to the relaxation response from breathing, the counting of breath forces your mind away from the negative stimuli and into a mindfulness mode. The additional benefit of this method is that it allows the mind time to create space between negative stimuli and knee-jerk reactions. The time spent focused on breath allows you to become more balanced and check any ego-based reactions you may have.
With love and light. Lauren xo