So a couple of weeks ago I talked about the power of mindful meditation. In addition to the obvious; enhanced relaxation and a soothing overall demeanor, mindful meditation has been shown physically change the size and shape of certain areas of your brain. I’ll let you check out that article if you want the full scoop, because today, we’ve got something even more important to touch on.
It seems a lot of you guys really dug that article, because we received quite a few emails wanting a step-by-step introductory guide into the world of mindful meditation. Well, ask and you shall receive, because today I’ve put together your how-to mindful meditation guide which will get you started on that path to higher thinking.
First and foremost, let’s revisit what mindful meditation is all about. Mindful meditation is about getting us completely in tune with our present moment in time. This one instant point surrounded by infinity on all sides, is what we are focused on. Not the past, not the future, just here and now.
By learning to become aware of ourselves, our minds, and living in the absolute present, we are going to be able to reap all of those awesome benefits I discussed in my previous blog post on mindful meditation. We’re also going to in turn, reduce our suffering, anxieties, and depression. We’re going to become the truly happy, healthy, and fit people who may be hiding inside of us.
How to Mindfully Meditate
So let’s cut to the chase – how do we do it? How do you practice mindful meditation in an efficient and effective way that will bring about the changes I’ve mentioned? First things first, it’s going to take practice. It is in the name after all… mindful meditation practice…right?
Do not expect immediate results. It’s not going to happen. It doesn’t matter who you are. Changing brain chemistry, even if you practice mindful meditation perfectly as an absolute beginner, takes time. It’s not going to take years, but it’s going to take time. So just chill, stick with your practice, and over time you’re going to notice a slightly different and higher level thought process going on between your ears. The changes will be incredibly subtle, but eventually you’re going to realize you’re less stressed, less anxious, and more in tune with your body.
The process of mindful meditation incorporates three principles; mind, body, and breath. There are of course many ways to tackle the practice of mindful meditation, and this is but one method which I’ve researched and broken down in simple terms for your benefit. We’re going to start with body first. You’re going to want to set up a serene and quiet place in your home. Doesn’t matter if it’s an entire room or a small corner; just make sure you return to this place during the initial phases of your practice.
Some people find lighting candles or incense is beneficial, but you absolutely do not need to. Just make sure your space is free from distraction, i.e. your computer, TV, cell phone, etc.
Some people make a big deal of how exactly you should be sitting while practicing mindful meditation. Personally, I think your comfort is the most important thing. After all, it’s tough to clear the mind when your ass is burning because you’ve been forced into some uncomfortable position on the ground. Bottom line, just get comfortable in a seated position.
Rest your hands on your thighs, keep your eyes open, gaze slightly ahead and looking down. You don’t need to stare down a specific spot or get all crazy-eyed on whatever it is you’re looking towards. Just gently look in a specific direction in front of you and towards the ground or wall. Again, just chill…don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be.
We now turn to breath. Initially, pay slight attention to your breath. Feel it come in. Feel it go out. You want a slow, steady, and consistent rhythm. After a while you won’t need to pay any attention to your breath, it will just happen. But in the initial stages of your mindful meditation practice, make sure you’re breathing consistently and comfortably.
I want to absolutely make one thing clear, the best way to achieve a level of success when it comes to mindful meditation, is to become aware of how we already are. Don’t feel you need to adopt some sort of weird breathing rhythm. Just freaking breath. Quiet, calmly, and fully. It’s easy; give it a try.
Lastly, we turn our focus to the mind. This is undoubtedly the most important part, and the aspect of mindful meditation which will unlock the greatest benefits for us. You’re going to no doubt have thoughts coming and going throughout your mind. The point of mindful meditation is to acknowledge the thoughts, but not hang on to them. You may envision a scenario at work from earlier in the week. That’s perfectly fine. Allow the vision to enter, float around, then eventually pass on through.
If you find thoughts are unable to float out of your mind, or they are occurring in rapid-fire succession, bring your consciousness back to you breath. Think about each breath in, each breath out. After a while, you’ll be able to clear the mind and return to the natural state.
Many people suggest mindful meditation is about being free of all thought. I’ve done some reading, and from my own experiences, this is not the true nature of mindful meditation. We don’t need to change ourselves into a state of nothingness. We simply want to be present in the moment (and in this moment we are mindful meditating). We don’t need to remove all thought from our minds, we simply want to be mindful of whatever happens. Whether it’s a random thought, a fly landing on our hand, or a cool breeze brushing over the back of our neck. Be mindful of your surroundings.
This is the absolute goal of mindful meditation; being aware of what is going on around, and inside of you, will bring about the changes we’re looking for. I’m nowhere near an expert on the matter, but it’s something I’m working on, and through my short practice of only a few months, I’ve been noticing slight changes in my demeanor.
As an absolute beginner, aim for just five to ten minutes of silent, mindful meditation each day. Over time, you’ll be able to increase your time spent in practice. As your abilities advance, living in the moment and being mindful of life around you will become engrained in your being. When this starts happening, life begins to change in the most beautiful ways imaginable. But it all starts with practice – so give it a shot today, just five minutes worth, and slowly build to that peaceful, happy, and intelligent state that’s living within all of us.