Mindfulness meditation practice is a great way for you to be in the present moment of your life. There are many different kinds of meditation practice, but mindfulness practice ranks high on the list. It's an easy way to get started with awareness meditation and improve your mental health.
In this article, we'll discuss how, when you practice mindfulness, you improve your mindful awareness and consequently, your mental health. Let's get started!
What is the present moment, anyway?
The present moment is not a hard concept to wrap your head around, but it can be intimidating to hear people talk about it constantly when they're talking about awareness meditation. The present moment is really just being aware: of your breath, your well being, and your physical body in space.
Mindfulness meditation practice is all about honing your present moment skills. The theory is that if we can keep our minds in the present moment, we can do things like reduce stress, keep a calm state, and eliminate negative emotions. Staying in the present even keeps your mind from wandering and improves your focus.
Benefits of paying attention to the present moment
By using the here and now as your focal point, you can keep your negative thoughts and feelings at bay. Guided meditations may distract you, but mindfulness meditation helps you cultivate an open awareness about the state of your body.
You can even guide your brain's open awareness by performing something called a body scan!
What is body scanning and how can it help me?
A body scan is super simple to do, and it's exactly what it sounds like. It is a mindfulness meditation technique where you go over your body and check for emotions, feelings, and physical sensations. Beginning at your toes, reflect on how they feel. Mine are cold right now!
Then, slowly move your awareness up your body. How do your calves feel? What feelings are in your stomach right now? By focusing on individual pieces of your body, you're cultivating a sense of the present moment, and ultimately reducing stress.
How often should I engage with mindfulness practice?
Ideally, you would practice meditation daily. All you need to practice mindfulness daily is a few moments of self awareness. Meditation doesn't have to be long and boring; nor does it need to completely “fail” when your mind wanders.
Mindfulness meditative practices are best used to increase your mental health. If you're going to stress out about how often you're practicing meditation, that's probably not good for your mental health. So relax! Cultivate a peaceful, gentle meditation habit, and everything else will fall into place.
Ok, so, how do I start?
Awareness meditation is almost criminally simple. To get started, sit in a comfy chair. Or stand – I don't really care. The important thing is, you need to be intentional about where you are in the moment. So be somewhere safe, and get yourself comfy. Next, just breathe. Seriously. Breathe.
Feel the air as it moves into your lungs. Hold it until it's a tiny bit uncomfortable. And then release – making sure to get as much air out as you can. Feel the air exit your lungs. Repeat ad nauseum.
When you start losing focus on your breath, you can change your awareness to other things. Listen to the sounds around you. Like, really listen. Do you hear birds? Trucks? Breathing?
How does it feel to be, in this very moment, in your physical body? Do your toes hurt? Do you have a headache? Are you comfortably full?
Wow, that's it? Really?
… That's really it. Set a timer if you'd like. Start at 5-10 minutes, and work your way up as you get more practice or have more time.