Today more than ever, practicing mindfulness is something we can all benefit from. If you spend most of your day in a fog you could benefit from mindfulness. If you forget your car keys because you’re trying to remember when your son’s next orthodontists appointment is scheduled, you could probably benefit from practicing some mindfulness. If you spend more time worrying about the future and ruminating about the past, you definitely will benefit from practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness can help reduce stress, it can strengthen the immune system, it can help decrease anxiety and increase feelings of well being. And that’s just the beginning of what practicing mindfulness can do.
Ok, that’s great, but what is it and how do you get started?
Mindfulness is an active attention to the present. When you are mindful you are not worrying about the future or the past, you are in the moment. Mindfulness can be a meditation but it is also a way of life.
The wonderful thing about practicing mindfulness is that it can be done just about anywhere, it does’t require any formal training (though many people benefit from further study) and it’s free to practice. You don’t need any special accessories, apps or tools to practice mindfulness. All you need is a quiet space and some time each day.
- Choose a time and make it a routine – For many people it’s first thing in the morning, before all the worries of the day come crashing in to consciousness. For others, it’s during a lunch break or after the kids have returned from school and are settled in with homework. Choose a time, roughly the same time each day, and stick to it.
- Choose a place – Find a place that is quiet, peaceful and away from distraction. That’s going to be different for everyone. Some people can practice mindfulness in a crowded subway while others will prefer a more isolated location like a bedroom or den. Whatever place works for you is all that matters.
- Choose a position – You don’t need to get into the lotus position but it helps if you are comfortable, but not too comfortable. Choose a position that helps you to relax but doesn’t let you fall asleep.
- Choose an intention – Simple is the key. You can start with something simple like: “My intention is to find peace in each day”, or “I intend to open my mind to love”, or even “I seek compassion and forgiveness for myself and others.” An intention is what you desire to focus on during your meditation.
- Choose to breathe – While an app is not necessary, there are many great apps that help with breathing, an important aspect of mindfulness. You can count as in you inhale and exhale or simply think the words to yourself as you are doing the action. While inhaling slowly say the word “inhaling” or “inhale”, and “exhaling” or “exhale” as you release your breath.
- Set a timer – When you first begin practicing mindfulness start small. Set a time for 5 minutes and increase as the practice becomes easier. Close your eyes, breath in and out, and focus on your intention. If your mind starts to wander, think about your breathing until you’re focused on the present again.
That’s it, that’s all it takes to practice mindfulness!
As you practice mindfulness each day, you will find you reach a state of meditation easier and easier. The fidgeting will eventually settle down and you’ll be able to clear your mind of the clutter much faster than you did when you first started. Practice each day and you’ll start noticing the benefits soon.