Do you ever catch yourself zoning out while you’re doing something? Perhaps you’re reading a book and find yourself reading the same page over and over without comprehending any of what you’ve read. Or maybe you just drove somewhere, but don’t remember consciously paying attention to how you arrived at your destination. These are all examples of mindlessness. When you find yourself running on autopilot, you may feel your brain is detached from your body because your attention is elsewhere. Mindfulness is a state of impartiality, meaning that you become aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment or analysis.
Mindful meditation can help bring you back into awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and immediate environment. This type of meditation is very simple, but it is not always easy. Here are five steps to help you get started with your practice.
How to sit
Mindfulness meditation is typically practiced in a sitting position with eyes closed. You can sit in a chair or a cross-legged position on the floor. As you make yourself comfortable, concentrate on feeling stable, grounded, and rooted.
Your posture should be relaxed, but not slouched. Sit with your back as straight possible without forcing it. Remember that your posture is a reflection of your inner world and sitting tall will bring clarity and alertness. You may choose to sit on a meditation cushion, pillow, or folded blanket. Whatever you are sitting on, make sure that the back is slightly higher than the front which will angle your pelvis slightly forward.
At first, deep mindful breathing will be a conscious effort, but with practice, it becomes easier. Pay attention to the fluctuation of your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Notice how the air feels as it flows into your nostrils and out through your mouth. As you breathe in, think positive thoughts, affirmations, and blessings. As you exhale release any negative thoughts and energy you are feeling.
To start it may help to count your breaths as follows: inhale deeply through your nostrils for a count of 3 seconds, hold your breath for a count of 2 seconds, then exhale fully through your mouth for a count of 4 seconds. Once that becomes comfortable, stop counting and focus on observing each breath.
While you are meditating, your eyes may be open or closed. In the beginning, it might be easier to maintain focus with your eyes closed. The goal is to eventually become mindful enough that you can meditate with your eyes open and not be distracted. If your eyes are open, choose a focal point to gaze at, perhaps a spot on the floor or something not too far in front of you. Your eyes should be looking downward, and your gaze should be soft and relaxed.
Quiet your mind
A quiet mind needs a quiet environment so pick a place to meditate where you won’t be disturbed. As you begin to meditate, set an intention that you choose to let go of all other obligations at this time. During your meditation, you may find yourself distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. When you find your mind wandering, acknowledge what is happening and reset by refocusing your gaze and concentrating on your breathing. Don’t judge yourself when you find yourself distracted. The goal is to find silence, and there is no right or wrong way to get there.
Using these tips should help you get started with your meditation practice. Remember it is called a practice because it is not something that will be easy right away. You need to set aside a designated time for your meditation. There is no magic number for how long your meditation should last. If you are new to meditation, you may start with just a few minutes, but over time, you will find your practice growing longer. As you become more aware and start to notice the benefits of meditation, you may even find that the length of your meditation is irrelevant. Like many things in life, the key is to keep practicing, and you will reap the rewards.
Szymon is the founder of Love Meditating, a meditation-yoga blog dedicated to provide honest advice and information. He aspires to help his readers achieve inner peace and tranquility, sharing personal tips learned through both years of experience and thorough research. Check out lovemeditating.com to learn more.