What is mindfulness mediation? You already possess the ability to observe when you're happy or sad. You just have to pay attention and not judge yourself or others.
Remember the last time you felt happy or sad and just sat back and observed the situation? It’s not always easy. Training your mind to watch without letting your thoughts and your inner critic run amok has numerous benefits.
Stress can be harmful. That’s why practicing mindfulness meditation can counteract tension and boost inner calmness.
“When people ask, ‘What is mindfulness meditation?’ my working definition is it’s a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion,” said Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a research-backed stress-reduction program.
All too often, we insert ourselves into situations and cause ourselves to get upset. A good example is when we’re late for an important meeting. Sitting in standstill traffic, it’s easy to criticize ourselves. We can ask ourselves over and over again why we didn’t leave an hour earlier. We imagine the reactions we’ll get from the people we’ve kept waiting. We look at the clock on the dashboard and our tempers rise.
How to use mindfulness meditation
Listening to your thoughts without getting angry or upset is a form of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been around for centuries. The practice is part of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. It’s also part of yoga and, more recently, non-religious meditation.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to develop awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and situations, and not to get caught up in them. Mindfulness meditation can boost your immune system, decrease heart rate and blood pressure, improve sleep, and increase energy.
You can practice mindfulness meditation at home. It’s wise to try to make mindfulness meditation a ritual because your mind tends to wander when you first meditate. When that happens, you need to observe and bring your attention back to being quiet. With constant practice, you can train yourself to be mindful.
How to do mindfulness meditation
- Develop a routine. Set aside a time each day to meditate, and try to do it in the same place where you won’t be interrupted.
- It takes time. Give yourself five to 10 minutes, and increase the time after a week or two. You can meditate in the morning and evening.
- Make sure the area is quiet. That way you can focus on your breathing.
- Watch your posture. Sitting up straight, either on the floor on in a chair with your eyes closed, keeps you awake. You can rest your hands on your lap with your palms facing up.
- Be comfortable. Wear clothes that don’t restrict your movements. You should feel at ease.
- Breathe. Take long deep inhalations and count to 5. When you exhale, slowly, count to 10.
- Focus on your breathing. Each time your mind wanders, and it will, bring your attention back to your breathing.
- Take a class. You can sign up for group mindfulness meditation sessions on smartphone apps and at local adult schools, gyms, and yoga centers.
“If we examine ourselves every day with mindfulness and mental alertness, checking our thoughts, motivations, and their manifestations in external behavior, a possibility for change and self-improvement can open within us,” The Dali Lama, wrote in his book, “The World of Tibetan Buddhism.” “From early morning until I go to bed and in all situations of life, I always try to check my motivation and be mindful and present in the moment. I find this to be very helpful in my own life.”
July 13, 2023
Janet O’Dell, RN