Mindfulness Meditation: What Is This Meditation Everyone Talks About?

 

Mindfulness is a technique that has become very popular, but there is still a lot of doubts about what it really is and how it can help us on a day to day basis. In this article, we give advice on how to practice it and we will tell you how it can help us to have a fuller and happier life. What is mindfulness meditation and how is it practiced?

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

The present society is used to immediacy and busy rhythms of life. We live under the premise that the more we do or get accomplish the more successful we will be. Time is money and we want everything immediately. 

We live our lives thinking what is the next thing we need to do and not paying enough attention to what we are doing now. We are always on autopilot, worrying about what will happen next instead of focusing on the now. 

This life philosophy is detrimental to life quality and well-being and can lead to a multitude of pathologies and psychological problems. This is where mindfulness meditation can help us.

This type of meditation comes from Buddhist traditions but its practice is independent of religion and spirituality. It is no more than focusing attention on the present moment, without modifying it or judging it, accepting it as it is.

Mindfulness meditation brings us all kinds of benefits. It reduces our stress and anxiety symptoms, improves our attention, and reduces intrusive thoughts. It is a technique that has proven to be effective for anxiety treatment, depression and some types of phobias (such as agoraphobia). In addition, with practice, we will no longer identify with our own thoughts and feelings, and we will see them in a more objective way. We are not our thoughts nor are we responsible for what we think, but for what we do.

How do you practice Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced or done in many ways, for example through conscious breathing, body scanning, walking consciously, yoga. But it can also be applied daily in small everyday actions once we have practiced it enough.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation-Children

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place and the best time of the day for you.

The first thing we have to do is find when we have time to spend a few minutes ourselves. The best time is either when we get up, before beginning our daily routine (this can help us start the day with a positive attitude), or before bed, as a way to calm the mind after a day of work (which will help us relax and improve our quality of sleep). In addition, the advantage of choosing one of these two moments is that in our home there is usually less noise.

Regardless of the moment, what is important is that we can meditate without being interrupted. Once we choose, we have to sit or lie down in a comfortable place, in silence, with a dim light, and with closed eyes (if we are not focusing on a visual object). If we are sitting try to have your back against something to keep from sinking into an uncomfortable posture. 

Mindfulness meditation-seating

Mindfulness meditation

2. Choose an item to focus attention on

Focus on our breathing: Pay attention to all the sensations that your breathing produces without trying to change it in any way.  For example, we can inhale through our nostrils, feel the temperature, how the lungs swell and how the air exits them, how our diaphragm expands, etc. As our thoughts invade us, we push them to the side without judging them and we focus again on breathing and the sensations. 

Focus on our body: Pay attention to each part of your body, to its tension or relaxation, its temperature, position, friction with surfaces, etc. without trying to modify it.  

You can also focus on a sound, a candle, a phrase that inspires us as a mantra, or walking or doing yoga. Anything works as long as our attention is focused on it.  

3. Let go of the thoughts that might come while focusing.

No matter what object we choose the main thing is to focus on it without changing it, or judging it, just watch it as it is. Our minds will look for distractions because it is in its nature. However, as soon as we feel we are becoming distracted, we must return our attention to our chosen object, without judging ourselves for being distracted, or for the thoughts themselves.

This cycle is performed as many times as necessary, every time a thought comes, we leave it aside and we return to our object. A trick is to see our thoughts as clouds that come and go. We don’t climb into the cloud, we don’t get entangled in the thoughts, but we see them coming and going.

At first, it is not easy, attention will only last 10 seconds, but like everything, practice makes perfect. The important thing is not to be discouraged and not to judge.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Remember when choosing a type of meditation that the important thing is to feel comfortable with it. Without this, it would be very difficult to meditate properly.

How long should Mindfulness Meditation last?

There is no establish timed to meditate, it will depend on what the person can and wants to dedicate to mindfulness meditation.  

Initially, 5 minutes to start is ideal and then progressively increase to 10 minutes. Once we have acquired a certain habit, dedicate 20 or 30 minutes to meditation. This is said to provide great benefits to our health and well-being. On the internet, we can find videos to help us practice. If we search for “guided Mindfulness Meditation” we will find a great variety of videos. In the following video, you have an example of guided meditation that can help you.

Tips on Mindfulness Meditation Exercises

1. Mindfulness Meditation- Breathing

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down. Focus on your breath for just one minute.

  • Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds (you can count to six at first so you can see how long it should be).
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
  • Let go of your thoughts.
  • Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway.

2. Mindfulness Meditation- Listening

This exercise helps you get rid of your judgments and preconceptions from your past experiences and listen carefully.

An example of being influenced by past experiences auditory wise is listening to a song and hating it because it reminds us of our ex. The idea behind this exercise is for you to listen from a more neutral point.

Find a song you have never listened to and follow these steps:

  • Close your eyes and put on your headphones.
  • Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title or artist name before it has begun. Instead, ignore any labels and neutrally allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song.
  • Even if the music isn’t to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and allow yourself to explore every aspect of the track.
  • Try to listen to each instrument separately in your head and analyze each one.
  • Pay attention to the voice, if there is more than one voice do the same as in the previous step and separate them.

The main idea is to hear not think and to lose any judgments we might have along the way. This will help us to relax and open ourselves to new experiences.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Apply Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation Daily

Mindfulness is a technique or practice but it is also a way of life. It allows us to enjoy every moment as if it were the first time, almost with a child’s curiosity. Mindfulness has proven to have so many benefits on the brain, including change it completely, find out here.

Not everything we do should be done with awareness, however, if we look closely at what we do on a daily basis, our life would be complete. For example, the next time you brush your teeth, look at the movements you do, how the brush feels on your teeth and gums, the taste of toothpaste, how it fills your mouth.

You will realize how good it feels to take breaks from life’s hustle and bustle. Imagine how wonderful it would be to do with the good things that happen.

Positive Psychology, a psychological perspective, establishes that we focus too much on negative emotions. These emotions occupy our minds most of the time and alert us that something is not right. To some extent, this is good and evolutionary since you have to be prepared for threats in order to survive.

However, today’s common threats are psychological and most of them are created by us. Therefore, it’s crucial to give positive events in our lives the importance that they deserve. We have to live them with full consciousness in order to rejoice over them. On the other hand, negative events should be seen as something fleeting that comes and goes. They should be lived as opportunities to learn and grow as a person.

Thank you so much for reading this post. If you have any questions or concerns, please write them below. I will be happy to answer them!

This article is originally in Spanish written by Andrea García Cerdán.

Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.