Mindfulness continues to prove its efficacy in reducing feelings of stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and other experiences of mental distress. Mindfulness is a valuable tool, not only for coping with the stressors of life, but for fostering personal peace, healing, and growth as well.
If you are new to mindfulness, you may struggle to understand what it is or why it’s important. Even after you become aware of all of its benefits, you may struggle to know where to start with practicing it. A great start to answering all of these questions is by learning mindfulness meditation.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness explains a mental state where a person is intentionally aware of everything that is happening in the present moment. This involves being aware of external stimuli and surroundings as well as the mental and emotional experiences that are happening internally.
Many of us go about our day going through the motions of our habitual routines- mindfulness encourages us to connect deeper with the moment happening in front of us.
There are several key factors of mindfulness that make it a distinct concept, including:
Meditation is a set of techniques and practices that encourage a person to experience a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. There are several different types of meditation that highlight different aspects of focus or attention.
When you combine the concept of mindfulness along with the practice of meditation, mindfulness meditation is born. This form of meditation is one of the easiest to begin with, as it encourages a person to learn how to embrace mindfulness in its most simple context.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to increase your awareness of your internal thought, feeling, and emotional processes.
Mindfulness Meditation Explained in Steps
Although it may seem straightforward, mindfulness meditation can be incredibly challenging for beginners. If you have never meditated before, it can take several sessions to fully grasp the benefits of meditation. After you get the hang of it, you may find meditation to be an incredibly liberating experience.
Step #1: Consider Your Preferences: Set, Setting, Position, and Ambiance
Although mindfulness can be practiced anywhere at any time, you must set aside time to practice mindfulness meditation. Find a comfortable, quiet place where you can be alone for a while. The amount of time that you choose for your practice completely depends on you.
For your first several sessions, you might find yourself easily restless or bothered, even when you try to sit still for a simple five minutes. But over time, you will be able to build up your time and tolerance for your focused attention. Use a kitchen timer or your phone. If you find yourself able to sit longer than the amount of time you set aside, gradually build up the amount of time you practice.
Next, you will want to find a comfortable position for you to practice your meditation in. Most people sit with their legs crossed in an upright position. Others like to lay down flat on the ground and let their body relax into the ground. Choose your preference.
Another thing to consider is the ambiance of your practice. While many people prefer to meditate in silence, others like to turn on meditation music or white noise sounds for the duration of their practice. Certain sounds produce frequencies that will help you to stay motivated and engaged in your practice. You might also consider using audios for guided meditations, where a person walks you through your meditation experience verbally in steps.
Step #2: Focus On the Breath
The main focus for mindfulness meditation is the use of the breath. Once you choose your preferences, it is time to relax and focus on your breath. As you inhale, bring attention to the sensations that you are feeling in your body. As you exhale, release any unwanted energy that you feel inside of you.
When you focus on your breath, try to breathe in more air than you typically do when your body does it automatically. Take slow, conscious breaths. Feel it as you inhale and exhale. You might notice the rise and fall of your chest or belly, or feel the air move through your nose and mouth. Take notice of your breath.
Step #3: How To Go About Your Wandering Thoughts
You will quickly notice your thoughts begin to wander, and when they do, return your attention to your breath. It is not possible to eliminate thinking entirely, but it is possible to train your mind not to focus on them as they surface. When your attention leaves, shift your thinking gently back to your breath.
If you feel your mind wander constantly, you are not failing at meditation. It is normal, especially during times of high stress, to feel like you can’t turn your thoughts off. When this happens, practice being the observer of your thoughts instead of the thinker behind the thoughts. Observe them without reacting. Pay attention without attaching emotion or judgment to them. With the repetition of mindfulness meditation, you will notice your mind becoming the observer in your daily life.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of increasing your awareness while you work to address internal sensations, thoughts, and experiences. Although there are incredible benefits to meditation, it can be challenging to start practicing it. With mindfulness meditation, the key focus is on your breath. Every time you start to notice your mind wander, focus your attention back to your breath. Over time, you will retrain your mind to not fixate on ruminating thoughts, but to instead challenge them and observe them objectively. West Coast Recovery Centers recognizes how important mindfulness is in the treatment of mental health and substance use conditions. We believe that mindfulness techniques can help to achieve long-lasting recovery no matter where you stand on your journey. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of meditation, or for more information about our treatment facility, give us a call today a (760) 492-6509. We look forward to speaking with you!