In this article, we penned a list of suggestions for practicing mindfulness. This is in no way a fixed guide with strict instructions, so establish your own routine. Before starting, decide how much time you want to allocate to this practice. If you haven’t experienced meditative exercises before, 10 minutes is good to start.
- Find a comfortable place to sit
Even though mindfulness can be experienced anywhere, specific settings can facilitate the practice. Finding a relatively quiet place where outside stimuli won’t bother you is good. For example, many persons with kids prefer to do this in the morning, before the entire house wakes up. The temperature in the room is also essential (not too hot, not too cold) – just comfortable. The whole point is to feel safe while doing this.
- Experiment with how you would like to sit
If you are passionate about meditative exercises, you can try sitting in a lotus or half-lotus position. You can also sit in an armchair with your back in a straight line. If you are not too tired, you can lay on your back on top of a blanket or yoga mat. If you feel anxious, you can practice mindfulness while walking where you are right now – concentrating your attention on the walking process. Though, it’s essential to find what’s best for you and stick to it. After finding what works in terms of body position, try closing your eyes and keep them closed throughout the whole practice. We do this because we want to concentrate on what’s happening inside us and not on what’s going on in the outside world.
- Relax your body
You’ll notice that in order to keep steady in any chosen position, there are some muscles you need to activate while the rest of the body can relax completely. The end goal is not to achieve complete relaxation, but you can calm some of the storms inside if you feel comfortable.
- Start by observing your body
How do you feel? Tired or energetic, calm or agitated? Is there any discomfort you can recognize? Observe all these and accept them as they are, without attaching them any explanation. You can also “scan” your body bit by bit, from the top of your head to your heels, focusing your attention on different parts of your body (your forehead, your cheeks, your mouth and tongue, your neck, and so on).
- Continue by observing your breathing
Slowly bring your attention to your breath and notice how it naturally occurs: without control, direction or force. Let this natural and self-acting process of your body be – as you observe it. Feel every breath from within – focusing on your chest and stomach area rather than your head. You will notice that your attention is driven away from noticing your breath by random thoughts. THINK- our minds have been doing this for a long time, so this mindless thinking habit will be stronger than the new practice you are trying to incorporate into your life (especially in the beginning). When this occurs, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Notice what you are feeling here and now
Focus on what is happening in the beautiful universe inside you: thoughts, emotions, ideas, dreams, and imagination. Simply observe, without making any judgment, without having any reaction, and without categorizing what is happening inside you right now. Just let all thoughts and feelings exist and pass away. Do not identify yourself with them, and don’t let them define you in any way. You are not your thoughts. You are the observer of your thoughts.
Here are some principles to have in mind when practicing therapeutic mindfulness:
- Don’t try to focus on too many things at once. Choose one stimulus at a time to focus your attention on.
- If you happen to think about something that alarms you, remember that nothing can harm you, and you are safe – it is just the mind talking and worrying.
- If you feel overwhelmed, distance yourself from your thoughts and try to look at what you are experiencing with the curiosity of a friend rather than the victim, keeping your heart and mind open.
- When you bring back your attention to the present moment, do it gently, without judging yourself or thinking that you missed the point of the practice, by letting your mind wander. Remember that bringing your attention back is a success, not a failure.
- Feel free to observe whatever happens within you without identifying yourself with the content of your thoughts. It’s like you are a witness to your consciousness without letting yourself swim in its deep and dark seas.
- Use your breath as an anchor for your attention. Whenever your mind leaves the present moment, you can return to it by focusing on your breathing. It is the solid ground where mindfulness grows its roots.
- All thoughts are just thoughts. In the mindfulness practice – no matter how noble or vile, profound or mundane your thoughts are, they are all the same. This principle helps us be equidistant to our mind projections and not identify with them.
- Stimuli such as exterior sounds, sensations such as hunger or itching are perfectly acceptable. Bring your attention to them and accept that they are there. If you do this, you will be surprised by how quickly they disappear.
- Refrain from interpreting or trying to define anything that is happening. Let thoughts and images come and go without being affected by them.
- Don’t try to force or fix anything. Just be and observe.
- As you keep practicing, you will feel fewer and fewer sensations. You will notice that thoughts continuously come and go from your mind, and you will start to realize that you are separate from them.
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