Mindfulness meditation has become ragingly popular in recent years. The studied benefits include lower blood pressure, less mental stress and even help with weight loss and cholesterol levels! As mindfulness has been proven to be as effective in dealing with anxiety and depression, this particular kind of meditation is a perfect tool for self-help.
To help you leverage the whole power of mindfulness meditation at home, I will give you the rundown of what exactly mindfulness meditation is, why we practice it and how you can do it.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is, as the name suggests, a specific kind of meditation. Like all meditations, it is an excellent exercise for your mind.
But while other meditation techniques might focus on your breath or a specific mantra, mindfulness meditation is all about – surprise – being mindful. With it, you practice being aware of what you can notice. This is not the tricky part though. The challenge is to only observe, without interpreting or judging the things you notice.
As we are wired to evaluate and judge everything, this can take lots of practice.
What is the purpose of mindfulness meditation?
The general goal of mindfulness is to reach a state of mind that includes mental clarity, calmness, and peace.
But if you look at the benefits of mindfulness a little more in detail, you quickly notice that you can use mindfulness meditation for all kinds of purposes.
Need to lower stress? Practice mindfulness. Fighting high blood pressure? Mindfulness meditation can help. Chronic pain or insomnia? Meditating with the “mindfulness technique” can bring relief.
How do you practice mindfulness meditation?
Practicing mindfulness meditation is a very straightforward process.
- Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably without anyone disturbing you.
- Set yourself a timer. This can be your phone, an online meditation timer or simply your kitchen timer. Just make sure you have something that will let you know when your time is over. You don’t want to secretly glance at a clock every few minutes to find out how long you have left. A good meditation length when you are just starting out is 10 minutes.
- Now start focussing on your breath. What does it feel like? Is it slow or fast? Deep or flat breathing? Notice how your chest and belly are rising and falling with your breath.
- Then allow yourself to become aware of other sensations in your body. What can you feel? Anything you can hear? Are there any smells? For example, try to notice what the air feels like on your skin. Or where your body touches the furniture you sit on.
- Keep experiencing every sensation fully, without trying to control it. When you notice your thoughts wandering away, gently bring them back to your sensations. Do this until your timer goes off.
As you start getting more familiar with this, slowly make the meditation intervals longer. A good time to aim for is a 20-minute meditation session.
How to use mindfulness meditation to make a difference in your life
In order for the mindfulness meditation to work its life-changing magic, you want to make it more than a one-off thing. It can change your brain and the way you respond to stress. But like all training method, you need to do it regularly and for a while.
So a good way to achieve that goal is to make mindfulness meditation a daily habit. I incorporate it into my morning routine, for example. This way I can start the day with a clear and focused mental state. But you could also make it part of your lunch break or take some time in the evening for it.
The most important thing is to have some regularity. Stay with it for a month and you will notice a difference. Do it even longer and the people around you will notice it as well.
Is there a difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Lastly, I want to address a common source of confusion when it comes to mindfulness meditation. Many people use the terms mindfulness and meditation synonymously. But they are not exactly the same.
Mindfulness is a certain state of mind. It is being aware without judgment.
Meditation, on the other hand, is an exercise for your mind. You can use it to practice mindfulness.
I hope that clears that up a little bit. Let me know in the comments if you have any further questions and enjoy practicing your mindfulness meditation!