What does it take to be mindful? How do I learn how to meditate? These may be some of the questions you ask when hearing those words. It may surprise you that the answers to these questions and more are relatively simple. Anyone can practice mindfulness and meditation, and to get started is also straight forward. While it may take some time to master, some people who practice may begin to see benefits from the start. Here we take an in-depth look at the basics of mindfulness and meditation, with tips on how you could get started and introduce them into your daily life.
If you are just beginning your journey, the best news for you is that you already know how to be mindful. Every day we are mindful even if we are not aware of it. The charity Mindful.org defines mindfulness as the ability to be fully present in a situation. This means we are totally aware of our surroundings, where we are and what we’re doing. Even if you have not realised it, you will likely be present throughout your day. It could be something as simple as enjoying the sunshine on your face or appreciating the time spent with a friend. A useful time to be mindful is when you find yourself becoming engrossed in thoughts and distractions.
If you ever feel anxious, this could be because you are too busy worrying about the future or something you have done in the past. This would be a perfect time to use the mindfulness technique consciously. Take a few deep breaths in and out, and work on focusing your mind on your current situation. Ask yourself: what are your senses feeling? What is it I have to be grateful for? Don’t think or worry about anything in the past or future.
Meditation is a way to consciously take the time to be mindful. Meditation is not about taking control, but about guiding the mind into being aware. Our wonderful minds are awash with thoughts, feelings and creativity, while this is natural most of the time, mindfulness teaches us to settle our minds, and let them become relaxed. Meditation often has what’s known as a meditation object, a suitable one to try if you are a beginner is breath.
Start by sitting somewhere quiet, comfortably on the floor or a chair, sit up straight but not stiff; let your body relax into the natural curvature of your spine. You can help this by putting your upper arms parallel to your body and then allow your hands to rest on top of your legs. When you feel comfortable, start to focus on your breaths in and out, nothing else. Inevitably your mind will wander; there is nothing wrong with this just gently guide it back to your breathing. You can do this for however long you want, and you can learn to judge for yourself if you feel like you have spent time being present.
The great thing about being mindful is that you will be able to notice for yourself any effects it has on you. Each person may experience a different outcome, such as being able to fall asleep better or reduced levels of anxiety. A scientific study by Harvard University shows the benefits of mindfulness and meditation on mental and physical wellbeing. You could consider it as part of your self-care routine, for more information on self-care and how you can incorporate it into your life, have a read of one of our other journal pages How To Make Time For Self-Care?
Here at Balance Holidays, we are advocates of self-care and unearthing your potential to live a fulfilled and satisfying life. Whether you require a digital detox or want to focus on yourself, our mindfulness meditation retreats are designed for everyone. If you are starting on your journey or want to explore your capacity for mindfulness and meditation further, our retreats are handcrafted with you at the centre.