It’s a busy world that we all live in and our lives are filled with activities like email, texting and social media, so we are constantly doing something. In a world that is always on the go, the benefits of slowing down look very attractive.
When we are so often connected to technology, rarely alone with just our thoughts, it is understandable why there is a growing movement in the world to train people to get around the stresses of daily life. To help with this we offer here some helpful mindfulness meditation tips.
Mindfulness Is Popular
Mindfulness is a popular topic these days, just like meditation is. You hear many people talking about it and it’s getting alot of attention in the news as more studies are showing the benefits of mindfulness practice.
Although it might sound to some like a new fad, there is real proof that being mindful can help just about every aspect of your life. And the good thing about it is that you don’t need to sit for hours in seated meditation pose to get there!
What Is Mindfulness?
As the world becomes more aware of the adverse impact that daily stress has on health and happiness, more people have turned to mindfulness and meditation as a form of self-care.
We all seek stability as we try to hold things still, thinking that if we do, we can control them. But since everything is always changing, this doesn’t really work, and it can cause us to lose control.
First of all, mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose”. Or as mindfulness Guru Jon Kabat-Zinn says, Mindfulness is described as “moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness.”
We see here that Mindfulness is both a practice and a state of mind. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness improves well-being, and increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences, including painful emotions, rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance. It is this non-judgmental aspect of mindfulness that gives it its real zeal. Just be, and don’t judge!
You can practice mindfulness just about anywhere, anytime. Pausing to practice mindfulness for just a few minutes at different times during you day can help your days be better, and more in line with how you’d like them to be.
We Often Run On Autopilot
All too often we live on autopilot, reacting quickly and not thinking about the impact of our actions and words on ourselves and on others. This happens in both the personal and professional environments but mindfulness says we can do better.
Mindfulness reveals that by paying attention to what’s going on around us, instead of operating on auto-pilot, we can reduce stress, unlock creativity, and boost our performance.
Mindfulness is like the opposite of being on autopilot. This is when you do things without alot of thoughts or consideration. An example of autopilot is, for instance, when you back out of your driveway and head to work on a weekend when you intended to go to the mall or a friends house. Being mindful is paying attention and focusing attentively on this very moment.
- Mindfulness And Single-Tasking
You can focus on the present anytime, anywhere: in your car, standing in a line, or even at work. If you are single-tasking, doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention, it can be on something as common as having a bite of food or brushing your teeth.
Being mindful helps you notice when you are on autopilot. It lets you change what you’re doing in the moment, rather than regretting it later.
You might find yourself eating a bag of chips in front of the TV for example. Being mindful can help you break free from the autopilot trance and take a moment to make a different choice. You could trade the chips for an apple, or decide to skip TV and take a walk instead. So it is an aid to clear thinking.
Mindfulness can keep you in touch with your goals and hopes. Focusing on the moment keeps you from reacting quickly and doing what you usually do without thinking about it. It really is an improvment to get past autopilot and be living in the NOW.
- Transcending Automatic Behavior
It is estimated that 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot, which can be called our fast brain. In this fast brain, neural networks underlie all of our habits, reducing our millions of sensory inputs per second into manageable shortcuts so we can function in the busy world. These brain signals are like signaling highways, and they are so efficient that they can cause us to relapse into old behaviors before we remember what we meant to do instead.
In mindfulness we break away from this automatic behavior and really tune into the now. We give our hearts and minds to the present moment, and discover the joy of such a fresh experience.
We don’t have to be bound by the ways of autopilot and with mindfulness we can start right now being fresh and alive.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Maybe the best practice for mindfulness is paying attention to your breathing. Watching the breath has a centering effect and can calm the breath and mind and bring peace to your whole being.
Being mindful means paying close attention to what’s happening in the moment. There is not really anything as immediate as your breath.
Mindfulness means noticing what’s happening inside your mind and in your body. Sometimes it means being aware of what’s happening around you, like if the flowers are blooming on your route to work, but the focus on the breath can really put you in the now.
As we mentioned with autopilot many people are doing automatic behavior and not being cognizant of their immediate situation. Doing breathing focus is centering and gets you in touch with your whole being.
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Breathing In The Now
Put simply, mindfulness is about being present and breath focus is improved by mindfulness practice.
Breathing is one of the few completely constant things in life. Regardless of what else is going on, there is always breath in, and breath out, and the repetition of these two activities. The awareness of this process has been used by countless people as an effective mindfulness meditation technique.
The very act of being aware of one’s own breath can lead to ‘better’ breathing, which can lead to physical and emotional relaxation. Breath meditation is a classic and often used meditation for these reasons. Many meditators use the Yoga Pranayama breathing and meditation techniques to focus and ‘get high’ as they center their body and mind with concentrated focus on breathing.
Breathing meditation involves increased awareness of the present moment and with practice, it can be utilized almost anywhere and can bring lasting peace and stress relief. And it all begins with noticing the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation breath.
A Breathing Mindfulness Meditation
Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go, rise and set, without judgment and without the labeling of good or bad.
If you get side tracked or the mind wanders, then just return to your focus on breath or mantra and keep the practice going. In this way you can calm the breath and maybe calm the mind too and you should feel more peace and relief from so much normal activity.
It is also good to read Meditation To Cure Difficulties
Mindfulness And Exercise
Another great way to practice mindfulness is when doing exercise. Maybe you want to exercise more? Mindfulness can help you enjoy activities, and thus, will make you more likely to stick with them.
- Exercise #1
Try this mindfulness method while you perform an exercise:
- Tune into your body’s feeling, see if your muscles are tense, or if you feel restless.
- See if the action you are doing makes your body feel good while you’re doing it.
- Does the exercise center on a certain body part, and if so, how does that part feel while you’re doing the exercise?
- Then notice your thoughts about the movements, and see if they are positive.
When you focus on your body, it can motivate you to move more throughout the day, and it might also make you more appreciative of your body and see what a friend it is. So if you want to be more present in your daily life then just put your mind to it!
- Exercise #2
There are many exercises you can do and practice mindfulness at the same time. Examples are: working out on a treadmill, lifting weights, riding a bike or going for a walk.
All these exercises take alot of focus but we can be mindful too. Here are some things to keep in mind while doing the exercise:
See how you feel – Maybe in that moment you need to feel safe, at ease or you just need some relief. Be aware of your feelings and this can bring balance.
Be clear about your goal – Remember what you are doing, and what you set out to do. Keeping the goal in mind can help you stay centered and this is a big part of mindfulness.
Don’t overdo it – Practice balance and even-ness in your execution of your tasks. If you need to, then take a rest, this could help you feel awake and alive from head to toe.
Take a deep breath – Breathing focus is central to exercise and even life in general. As you do your exercise then manage the breathing along with the task. Balanced breathing can keep you calm, relieve stress and anxiety, and help you get a clear mind for seeing things as pretty.
Exercise To Stay Focused
Not only can you compare exercising your mind to exercising your body, but exercising your body actually directly benefits the mind.
Researchers have found that students who performed moderate physical exercise before taking a test performed better than students who didn’t exercise. The exercise helped when they measured their attention spans.
Researchers found that exercise mostly helps with our brain’s ability to fight off distraction. It is found that the discipline it takes to perform a strenuous workout helps to strengthen the same supply of willpower that we use to avoid distractions. This can help us to keep working in a focused way.
When you’re being mindful, the key is not to label or judge what’s happening. Your feelings aren’t especially good or bad, they just are. In that way, mindfulness is about observing, you notice your life with a little distance, instead of reacting emotionally.
A great part of being mindful is practicing acceptance. In this way we move towards the goal of becoming One with all things. Actually the whole world is our home.
Observing A Higher Power
A good point to make about mindfulness is that it is so helpful to observe a Higher Power. Some call it Buddha, or Jesus, or God, and even in China they call it The Way (Tao) or The One Mind. Recognizing this Higher Power adds a new dimension to the mindfulness practice and gives it a depth that scripture can call Un-Fathomable. It also gets referred to as The Everlasting. To focus on and include this in our mindfulness practice gives more benefits than can be measured.
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We see the many benefits of mindfulness practice and the many ways it can be applied to our lives. As was said, being mindful is not only an action but a meditation and a state of mind.
Being mindful can help us be all-inclusive and have greater relationships with our family and friends, the people at work, and in general the people we meet where we go.
Be safe, practice love and kindness, and remember your Mindfulness Meditation Tips!
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Cover photo credit: By RelaxingMusic