The practice of Mindfulness and meditation has been around for thousands of years. Mindfulness is an incredible tool to help people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways. It’s important to note that as you begin your practice of Mindfulness, that at first you may only be able to stay in the present moment for seconds rather than minutes. Here are 5 easy ways to begin your Mindfulness practice …
1. Focus on your breathing:
Your breath is with you all day, every day. You don’t have to do anything special, except to experience your breath in a mindful way. The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath. This means observing your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Anytime you feel stressed simply bring your attention back to your breathing, this takes attention away from troublesome thoughts, and watch then how quickly your natural relaxation re-appears. Mindfulness is always mindful of something. When you drink your tea mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of drinking. When you walk mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of walking. And when you breathe mindfully, that is mindfulness of breathing.
2. Concentration, change your thinking:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Solution Focussed Brief Therapy (SFBT) show us that our thoughts are learned, and anything that is learned can be unlearned. Many thoughts go through our heads. Suppose you are breathing in, and then you think, “Oh, I forgot to turn off the light in my room.” There is an interruption. Just stick to your in-breath all the way through. Then you cultivate your mindfulness and your concentration. You become your in-breath. You become your out-breath. If you continue like that, your breathing will naturally become deeper and slower, more harmonious and peaceful. You don’t have to make any effort—it happens naturally. When practicing mindfulness, everyone, however much they practice, will experience thoughts creeping in to their heads uninvited. This is fine – its just what brains do, but how we respond to these thoughts is important. This is where Mindfulness is an excellent tool because as we take our attention off our thoughts by being mindful in the present moment, those troublesome thoughts dissolve through a lack of attention. Let it go, let the thought pass, come back to your breath.
The third exercise is to become aware of your body as you are breathing. “Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.” You may notice today you feel relaxed, or maybe it’s harder to sit today. “Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I am aware of my body.” I know my body is there. This brings the mind wholly back to the body. Mind and body become one reality. When your mind is with your body, you are in touch with the here and the now.
4. Releasing tension:
In a sitting, lying, or standing position, it’s always possible to release the tension. You can practice total relaxation, deep relaxation, in a sitting or lying position. While you are driving your car, you might notice the tension in your body. You are eager to arrive and you don’t enjoy the time you spend driving. When you come to a red light, you are eager for the red light to become a green light so that you can continue. But the red light can be a signal, a reminder that there is tension in you, the stress of wanting to arrive as quickly as possible. Now, you can make use of the red light – sit back and relax, take the ten seconds the light is red to practice mindful breathing and release the tension in the body.
So next time you’re stopped at a red light, you might like to sit back and practice the fourth exercise: “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body.” Peace is possible at that moment, and it can be practiced many times a day—in the workplace, while you are driving, while you are cooking, while you are doing the dishes, while you are watering the vegetable garden. It is always possible to practice releasing the tension in yourself.
5. Meditation practice:
Set aside five or ten minutes in the day to simply close your eyes and listen to some relaxation music. It doesn’t even have to be a relaxation cd, it could just be some easy listening music on the radio. Simply observe your thoughts as they float through your mind, and notice how if you don’t hold onto them they drift on by. With regular practice this becomes easier and