Mindfulness Meditation – What It Is And How To Do It

Posted: December 31, 2019 at 10:50 am


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Whether you're thinking about family life, work, school, what you're going to make for dinner, what you said at last night's party, or all of the above, it's easy to get caught in a pattern of swirling thoughts. Sometimes we ruminate on past eventseven to the extent that it leads to anxietyor we focus on the could-be situations of the future.

Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that can be helpful in these situations. It brings you and your thoughts into the present, focusing on emotions, thoughts, and sensations that you're experiencing "in the now." While it can be initially difficult to quiet your thoughts, with time and practice you can experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation, including less stress and anxiety, and even a reduction in symptoms of conditions like IBS.

Mindfulness techniques can vary, but in general, mindfulness meditation involves a breathing practice, mental imagery, awareness of body and mind, and muscle and body relaxation.

One of the original standardized programs for mindfulness meditation is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a student of the Buddhist monk and scholar Thich Nhat Hanh. His eight-week program guides students to pay attention to the present, decrease reactivity and arousal, and achieve a state of calm. Other more simplified, secular mindfulness meditation interventions have been increasingly incorporated into medical settings to treat stress, pain, and depression among other conditions.

Learning mindfulness meditation is straightforward enough to practice on your own, but a teacher or program can help you get started, particularly if you're practicing meditation for specific health reasons. While some people meditate for longer sessions, even a few minutes every day can make a difference. Here's a basic technique to help you get started:

There's no law that says you must be sitting on a cushion in a quiet room to practice mindfulness, says Kate Hanley, author of "A Year of Daily Calm." Mindfulness meditation is one technique, but everyday activities and tasks provide plenty of opportunities to practice.

Here are Hanley's tips on cultivating mindfulness in your daily routine.

Have you ever noticed how no one is trying to get your attention while you're doing the dishes? The combination of alone time and repetitive physical activity makes cleaning up after dinner a great time to try a little mindfulness. Savor the feeling of the warm water on your hands, the look of the bubbles, the sounds of the pans clunking on the bottom of the sink.

Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls this exercise "washing the dishes to wash the dishes"not to get them over with so you can go watch TV. When you give yourself over to the experience, you get the mental refreshment and a clean kitchen.

You can't go a day without brushing your teeth, making this task the perfect daily opportunity to practice mindfulness. Feel your feet on the floor, the brush in your hand, and your arm moving up and down.

It's easy to zone out while you're driving, thinking about what to have for dinner or what you forgot to do at work that day. Use your powers of mindfulness to keep your attention anchored to the inside of your car. Turn off the radioor put on something soothing, like classical musicimagine your spine growing tall, find the half-way point between relaxing your hands and gripping the wheel too tightly, and whenever you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to where you and your car are in space.

Watching TV while running on the treadmill may make your workout go more quickly, but it won't do much to quiet your mind. Flex both your physical and mental muscles by turning off all screens and focusing on your breathing and where your feet are in space as you move.

Instead of rushing through your evening routine and battling with your kids over bedtime, try to enjoy the experience. Get down to the same level as your kids, look in their eyes, listen more than you talk, and savor any snuggles. When you relax, they will too.

Of course, life can get in the waymaybe your little one calls for help while you're washing the dishes or a tricky traffic situation means you have to be even more focused on the road. But taking advantage of daily opportunities when they're available to you can help build a more consistent mindfulness practice. Even if you're not settling into a seated position for 30 minutes every day, just a few minutes of being present can reap significant benefits.

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Mindfulness Meditation - What It Is And How To Do It

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December 31st, 2019 at 10:50 am

Posted in Meditation