Meditation has been coming up a lot in my conversations lately. It has been funny (and also a bit frustrating) to hear that people think they need to be a Buddhist monk to meditate. They think that meditation is not for them and that they cannot do it. Well, it is absolutely not the case! Meditation is for you, for me, for everyone!
So, what is Mindfulness meditation all about? Although mindfulness is a noun, I think it is a verb in disguise. Why? Because mindfulness means that you are actively present; you are observing and feeling what is going on inside of you.
Mindfulness means being present in the moment in a non-judgemental way. It is a thoughtless awareness. It means that you are not thinking about what you did this morning or 30 minutes ago, neither are you thinking about what you should be doing, what is on your to-do list or what you will do next. You do not need to hold Lotus Pose and meditate for hours to be mindful. You could be eating, walking, looking at a view, and so on. All you have to do is pay attention and focus on the “right here right now”.
Mindfulness is the action of bringing your whole mind and your whole body into the process of choosing and learning how to focus our attention. It means observing and noticing what you are feeling without attaching any thought or judgement to it. Whatever you are feeling is neither good nor bad; it just is.
In his book Wherever you go, There you are, Jon Kabat-Zinn explains that meditation is not about doing but it is about being:
Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are. Perhaps its value lies precisely in this. […] When we understand that ‘This is it’, it allows us to let go of the past and the future and wake up to what we are now, in this moment.
When you pause even for just a few seconds and observe the flow of your breath and become silent, you become aware of a very powerful sense of presence, a sense of being. It is actually quite impressive and a moment of pure bliss.
Once you understand that mindfulness is about being present, once you practice it and feel it, then you are set up for massive changes in your life. You will see that with commitment and practice, you will be much gentler with yourself and with others. You will feel more compassion towards yourself, and others. Your emotions will not overwhelm you. You will appreciate the small things in life. You will increase your awareness, clarity and acceptance of your reality. You will be in the here and now, not in the yesterday or tomorrow. By focusing your energy on the present moment, it will be much stronger; your intentions will be clearer, and you are more likely to attract what you desire deep down. Your intuition will kick in, as you are more open to receive information from the Universe.
How-to practise mindfulness
In order to be mindful, it is easier if you have something to focus on. Most generally, we use our breath in meditation. If you do not fancy that, you can use visualizations, music, or even focus your gaze on a candle (tratak meditation). I love meditating using my breath as the focus. I believe that the breath is the most powerful tool that we have. Using our breathing is the key to enhancing physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Plus, you can take your breathing with you wherever you go, which means that you can practice anywhere, anytime.
You do not need to change your routine or find time in your schedule. You can practice being mindful throughout daily situations. Here are some examples:
- Sit in a quiet environment, close your eyes, breathe normally and be present. Observe the sensations in your body. Observe the thoughts popping up in your mind. Don’t delve into them. Simply acknowledge them and let it go.
- When you are on the tram, in the metro, or waiting for the bus, do not play on your phone; just be present and breathe. Enjoy the ride!
- You are standing in a line at the supermarket? Do not get impatient. Use this time to connect with your breath. Be present.
- When you are in the shower or washing your hands, take a second or two to actually feel the contact of the water on your skin. How does it feel?
- You can try it just now as you are reading this. Take a deep breath.
Here is a simple breathing exercise for you
1. Find a comfortable spot, away from your phone and laptop. You don’t want to be disturbed when you connect with yourself.
2. You can lie down or sit up, especially if you think that you are going to fall asleep if you lie down.
3. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Exhale gently. If you need to relieve some tension, you can take a deep inhale and lift your shoulders as high as you can; then drop them on the exhale. Repeat a few times; it will help you connect to your breath and to the present moment.
If you would rather not move your shoulders, you can focus on your belly. Feel it expand. Feel the breath coming into your body and then leaving your body.
If you want to practise in stillness, you can simply focus on the air coming in and out of your nostrils.
I hope that this blog post gives you a better idea of what mindfulness is and maybe it makes you feel like giving it a go. You will feel so relaxed and l so good!
Let us know if this helps or if you have more questions in the comments below.
What is your favourite way of being mindful?
THE MINDFUL WEEK JOURNAL
If you need help and support in your Mindfulness and meditation practice, sign up below and you will receive my free eBook The Mindful Week Journal. You will find daily mindfulness activities that you can easily incorporate in your life. You are invited to reflect on your experience and notice stress melting away. A growing sense of peace and connection appears.