Seems like the word mindful has been invented in the past decade or so, but essentially it just means being in the moment or staying present, which is sort of a lost habit when you are surrounded by stress. Apart from eating healthy and exercising, mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to stay balanced, focused and to learn to appreciate your time and your life in general.
Practicing mindfulness will help you find relief from stress. A less stressful life means you are open to new experiences. You are able to: see the present clearly, make better decisions and find solutions faster. Mindfulness also helps improve digestion, sleep, and manage high blood pressure
How Mindful Meditation Can Help You Get Through Any Situation
Mindfulness means to never dwell on the past or worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow. It gives you the power to be in the now, and since you’re feeling less anxious and worried, you’re going to feel more creative at work and in life. You’ll be more focused and productive, so needless to say, this is a habit; yes, a habit you need in order to be the person you know you are, beyond stress, fear and doubt.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Buddha
Learn to Breathe
Slowing down your breathing will give you instant relaxation. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four. Then hold your breath for a count of seven. Now exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight. Inhale again and repeat.
By focusing on the breath, you are already mindful. The important lesson here is you can’t go back to the previous breath nor you can catch the future one. It’s a simple yet powerful, grounding technique that people seem to dismiss. People find it hard to believe that by just breathing, you can create a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.
Quick Mindfulness Exercises
If you are unsure about meditating, you can start with small, quick mindful exercises. Focus on something you see or do everyday. Like brushing your hair or opening the door. Now every time you see or touch that object, look at it carefully and ask yourself how you feel at that moment. This level of awareness will lead you to learning to control negative thoughts; not by ignoring them but by noticing and labeling them as useless or unhelpful.
Similar to gratitude, we have a small mindful exercise than you can do before going to bed. Take out your notebook and pencil and write down five things you remember the most. Let’s say you wrote down “I saw a black and white cat.” Ask yourself some questions, like where did it come from or did you see a similar cat before, and then connect all the things you wrote about your day. When you start noticing everyday things, you appreciate them more and in time you will learn to appreciate yourself more.
You can also do some mindful listening by exploring the dynamics of each instrument of a song. It is all about hearing, not thinking, but it is normal to have thoughts, so just let them pass you by while you are listening.
It is also possible to be mindful while eating. It will help you lose weight, but more importantly you will learn to appreciate every bite. It is quite simple: focus on what you are eating; the shape and taste of your food, then try to understand if that food is good for you and why you like or dislike it.
Am I Doing Mindfulness Meditation Wrong?
The most common mistake is to think that you can do something wrong during mindfulness meditation. You are only supposed to follow your breath and imagine that your thoughts are flying away from you or the river is taking them. It doesn’t matter if your attention wanders, simply return.
You can meditate anywhere, even at work. There’s no time limit, but it is most efficient to start with at least 20 minutes. If you have just a few minutes, you have plenty of time to focus on breathing. Relax every inch of your body and enjoy that feeling. Notice if your shoulders are tight and relax them. Notice if your feet are cold or warm. The only rule is that there is no judgment.
When Will I See The Changes?
This is a common question, but it goes against being mindful. You are asking a question about the future, while doing it in the present. You won’t notice any changes until one day you remember how much anxiety and stress you felt before. You will feel like your whole body and mind are clearer. But don’t rush it; just enjoy the process of creating a new, healthy habit. After a while it will become your best tool to get rid of negativity that has no place in your life.
There is no magic pill or a quick way to relax and leave your worries behind. We think, we feel, but in a world of fast foods, fast fashion and instant coffees, we forget that this moment right now is what matters most. How are you feeling right now? What are doing at this very moment? Notice the little things and big things will follow.