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Mindfulness ranges from basic mental exercises through to more advanced techniques and philosophies. As we have touched on in our previous article, it can be performed while doing something as simple as brushing your teeth or driving your car.
However, one of the best ways to practice mindfulness and encourage your mind to apply it on a subconscious level is through meditation.
If you have never meditated before, don’t worry!
Meditation is an extremely broad term that can refer to many different things. In this case, all it means is to perform a simple mental exercise. No need to chant or light candles – unless you want to, then go for it!
7-steps to simple meditation
This simple meditation technique focuses on your breath. You can do it by yourself or in a group. Remember, the important thing is that you maintain a clear focus and awareness on your breathing.
Prepare for meditation
- Find a comfortable place to sit. It could be on a chair or on the floor. No special equipment is required – the important thing is that you can sit in a stable and comfortable position.
- Position your arms and legs. There are no strict rules here, but you want to encourage stability and a natural posture. If on a cushion on the floor, just cross your legs in front of you as comfortably as possible; if on a chair, sit normally with both feet flat on the floor. With your arms, let them sit naturally with your palms on your legs.
- Think about your posture. Don’t slouch, but you don’t have to sit ramrod straight, either. Sit with a good posture that follows the natural curvature of your spine, but make sure it’s comfortable and doesn’t require continual effort.
- Relax your eyes. At this point, you can either close your eyes or keep them open. If leaving them open, soften your gaze so that you aren’t intently focusing on anything in particular.
‘Do’ the meditation
Now that you are in a natural and comfortable position, you can start the exercise itself:
- Focus on your breath. Gently concentrate on your breathing and how it feels in your body. Experience the sensation of the air entering your nose and filling your lungs as you breathe in, and feel your chest lower and the sensation in your belly as you exhale through your mouth.
- Acknowledge, accept and let go of any thoughts. While focusing on your breathing, you will inevitably feel your mind wander and become distracted by various thoughts and emotions. Don’t try to supress or block the process of thinking, as this is the nature of the mind. Simply make a mental note of their existence and gently bring yourself back to the sensation of your breath. Continue this process for 5-10 minutes or as long as you wish to continue the meditation.
- When ready, mentally conclude the meditation and open your eyes. If you already had your eyes open, lift your gaze and allow yourself to take in the environment around you. Don’t leap up and rush off – just take a moment to experience the sights and sounds of where you are. Finally, reflect on the thoughts or emotions you are experiencing after meditating, and take note of how your body feels.
That’s it! Easy, right?
Whilst there are a variety of mindfulness meditation techniques that can be used, the one suggested above is really effective for beginners.
Remember, its important that you do not become annoyed or exasperated if your mind wanders.
‘Wandering’ is the nature of the mind. Its particularly common to happen when starting out with meditation. Over time, you will begin to notice you have an improved ability to focus on your breath and allow thoughts and emotions to pass by.