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What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners
Mindfulness is about being completely present in every moment. Modern life is fully of distractions, and we are nearly constantly thinking about things other than the task which we are presently engaged with. When we are at work we a thinking about what we are going to have for lunch, when we stop for lunch we are thinking about the work we need to finish in the afternoon, then we are thinking about what we are going to do when we get home. This is the opposite of mindfulness, and it is the state in which most people live in on a day to day basis. It is almost like we never really experience any of our lives because we are always thinking of something else, and rarely focused on what we are actually experiencing.
Mindfulness means that when you are eating lunch you are only eating lunch. You're thinking about every bite, how it feels in you mouth, the individual flavors, all the actual sensations that you are currently experiencing that most people ignore and skip over. When you stop your mind from wandering and actually fully immerse yourself in the world that most people simply skim over you can become less stressed, enjoy experiences more, and produces far better quality results in nearly any task.
Being mindful is something that many people find very difficult in today's world full of electronic gadgets that mean we are almost never completely disconnected or in the moment. The ability to pull out your phone and check Facebook anytime you like means that you are easily able to shut out the rest of the world whenever you want. To ignore what is really happening. What this means is that many people simply stop experiencing the real world, and live a more artificial existence.
How Do You Be More Mindful?
Increasing mindfulness in day to day life isn't something that is easy for everyone. How difficult it is for you will depend on many personal factors. The only way to achieve it is through conscious effort on a sustained basis. The more you practice the easier it will get over time, and you'll see yourself being more mindful without even thinking about trying faster than you would think. The best way to practice is through meditation, daily meditation. Many people will find the idea of meditation intimidating, and be rather apprehensive about trying it out. This is ok, most people start out this way. In reality meditation isn't something to be afraid of, it is after all meant to decrease your stress levels. The term meditation actually has a much more broad meaning than most people realise. Yes, sitting cross legged under a palm tree humming can be meditation, but it is far for the only, or easiest, way of doing it. So take a deep breath and relax, I'll explain some of the easiest ways to meditate, and increase your mindfulness.
Guided meditation tracks are a very easy way to start out your meditation practice. Essentially you sit somewhere comfortable, plug in your headphones and listen to an audio track. A guide, usually accompanied by relaxing music and/or sound effects will come on and explain what to think about. Often they will describe a scene for you to walk through in your mind, and tell you to let go of any other thoughts that might come into your head. These tracks can run for anywhere between five or ten minutes and an hour or longer. You can download some free tracks from places like The Guided Meditation Site or Brain Sync. If you enjoy this type of meditation, you might find that you want to buy some tracks, either to download or on CD, that are longer and to provide a bit more variety. If can be well worth it, as guided meditations are very relaxing, even for beginners, and the experience will only get better if you put the time in.
Go For A Walk
Mindfulness meditations are all about focusing on being in the moment and not letting yourself become distracted. You can practice the same things by simply going for a walk around your neigborhood. There is a little bit more to it than that though. Mostly when we walk we'll let our mind wander onto other things, what we're cooking for dinner, or maybe the groceries we need to buy later on. When you are walking to practice mindfulness however you need to try and focus on just what you are experiencing around you. Think about the breeze hitting your face, how it feels. Think about the sound your feet make when they hit the ground. Dwell on things enough that you think about them more than you would otherwise, and then let them drift away. Try not to think about anything that you are not experiencing in the very moment.
Inevitably other thoughts will come into your mind. Since you will need to make dinner when you get home, and you do still need to go and buy those groceries. Acknowledge those thoughts when they come into your mind, but say to yourself, ok, that doesn't matter now and return to focussing on what you are seeing around you. The first few times this is going to be difficult, but the more you practice the easier it gets. Try and go for a meditative walk every day, even if it is only for five minutes.
Simple Breathing Meditation
This is probably the simplest way of meditating. You practice mindfulness by simply sitting and focusing on your breathing. Sit down somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, and count every breath you take. Really think about it, how the air feels as it flows through your moth and fills your lungs. Hold the breath for a couple of seconds, then release it. Think about how the air feels as you breath out. Now keep repeating this, and count the number of times you do it.
As you are sitting, other thoughts will come into your mind. These are ok. Just let they float away as easily and quietly as they came – remember you don't need to think about them now, just think about your breathing.
When you first start out you don't need to meditate for too long, two minutes can be enough as a beginner. You might like sett a timer on your phone, so that you don't get distracted by thinking about the time. Otherwise set yourself a target of something like two hundred breaths. Remember to take it slow though, meditation isn't so much about racing to complete a goal, as it is about the process.
Remember regardless of which of the methods I have outlined above, you can even do all three if you want to, patience and consistency are the important things. Try and practice mindfulness at least once a day. After even just a couple of weeks you should start to notice yourself being generally calmer and less stressed. The effects of meditation are many and mindfulness is a key ingredient for living a happy and healthy life, so please go ahead and give it a go.