Mindful tips DIY at Home
08:42 - 28/11/2017
- What is mindfulness?
- A Meditation on Anxious Emotions
- A 5-Minute Mindful Breathing Practice to Restore Your Attention
- Three Mindful Practices for the International Day of Peace
- How To Find Time To Meditate
- How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?
- A Simple Meditation Practice
- Mindful Practices for Every Day
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
Who should practice mindfulness? Anyone can do mindfulness practice. There are no barriers. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your physical ability is, if you’re religious or not…
A MEDITATION ON ANXIOUS EMOTIONS
To allow you to fully experience this meditation, you need to read through the entire script first to familiarize yourself with the practice, then do the practice, referring back to the text as needed and pausing briefly after each paragraph. Take about twenty minutes for the practice. You can do this practice in a seated position, standing, or even lying down. Choose a position in which you can be comfortable and alert. Begin with a brief mindful check-in, taking a few minutes to acknowledge how you’re currently feeling in your body and mind…being mindful of whatever is in your awareness and letting it all be. There’s nothing that needs to be fixed, analyzed, or solved. Just allow your experience and let it be. Being present.
Now gently shift your attention to the breath, becoming mindful of breathing in and out. Bring awareness to wherever you feel the breath most prominently and distinctly, perhaps at your nose, in your chest, or in your belly, or perhaps somewhere else. There’s no other place you need to go… nothing else you need to do…just being mindful of your breath flowing in and out. If your mind wanders away from the breath, just acknowledge wherever it went, then return to being mindful of breathing in and out. Now reflect on a specific experience of anxiety, perhaps something recent so you can remember it more clearly. It doesn’t have to be an extreme experience of anxiety, perhaps something that you’d rate at 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Recall the experience in detail, as vividly as you can, invoking some of that anxiety now, in the present moment. As you imagine the experience and sense into it, be mindful of how the anxiety feels in your body and stay present with the sensations. Your only job right now is to feel and acknowledge whatever physical sensations you’re experiencing in your body and let them be. There’s no need to change them. Let the sensations run their course, just like a ripple on a lake is gradually assimilated into the entirety of the body of water.
Now feel into any emotions that emerge…anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, confusion…whatever you may feel. As with physical sensations, just acknowledge how these emotions feel and let them be. There’s no need to analyze them or figure them out. If strong emotions don’t arise, this doesn’t mean you aren’t doing this meditation correctly. The practice is simply to acknowledge whatever is in your direct experience and let it be. Bringing awareness to your anxiety may sometimes amplify your anxious feelings. This is normal, and the intensity will subside as you open to and acknowledge what you’re experiencing and give it space to simply be. Continue feeling into the anxiety, just allowing any feelings in the body and mind and letting them be, cultivating balance and the fortitude to be with things as they are. The very fact that you’re acknowledging anxiety rather than turning away from it is healing. As you continue to acknowledge your physical sensations and emotions, they may begin to reveal a host of memories, thoughts, feelings, and physical experiences that may have created limiting definitions of who you think you are. You may begin to see more clearly into how these old patterns of conditioning have driven your anxiety. This understanding can set you free—freer than you ever felt possible. Now gradually transition back to the breath, breathing mindfully in and out… Next, slowly shift your awareness from your breath to sensing into your heart. Take some time to open into your heart with self-compassion, acknowledging your courage in engaging with your anxiety. In this way, your anxiety can become your teacher, helping you open your heart to greater wisdom, compassion, and ease within your being. As you’re ready to end this meditation, congratulate yourself for taking this time to meditate and heal yourself. Then gradually open your eyes and return to being present in the environment around you. May we all find the gateways into our hearts and be free.
A 5-MINUTE MINDFUL BREATHING PRACTICE TO RESTORE YOUR ATTENTION
Returning to the breath, again and again, when the mind has wandered—that's how we train our attention.
1. Start by sitting comfortably on a cushion or in a chair. Close your eyes if you like, or leave them open and lower your gaze toward the floor.
2. Just breathe. Breathe as you normally would. There’s nothing special to do, or make happen. And then draw your attention to the physical sensation of each breath. You might notice the rising and falling of your abdomen or chest. Or you might notice the air moving in and out through your nose or mouth. With each breath, guide attention as best as you’re able back to your breathing. Breathing in… and breathing out. Be kind to your busy mind. Almost immediately, and many times over, we’ll find ourselves distracted. Our attention will always wander—that’s what it does. That’s normal, and always going to be part of our experience—both in meditation, and in life. You might find that your attention wanders toward a sound, or a thought, or a sensation. Without giving yourself a hard time, return your attention back to the sensation of breathing. Our attention will always wander—that’s what it does. That’s normal, and always going to be part of our experience—both in meditation, and in life.
3. When your mind wanders, gently return it to noticing your breathing. If something grabs your attention—a bird singing, a noise in the room—notice that happened, and then let it go as best as you’re able. Come back to the breath without expecting anything more. For a few moments, give yourself an opportunity to settle.
4. There’s nothing to do or fix. Sometimes, our mind remains busy and caught up during meditation. Noticing that, practice patience. We cannot force our minds into stillness, and that’s never the intention. Right now, in this moment, there’s nothing to fix or do. Whether you find the experience pleasant, unpleasant, or otherwise, allow everything to be for a few moments.
5. Return to the breath. Breathing in and breathing out, return your attention to the breath once again.
6. When you’re ready, gently open your eyes. Pause for a moment, and then decide how you’d like to continue on with the rest of your day.
THREE MINDFUL PRACTICES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE
A little gentleness and taking a few moments to pay attention to the body can have a strong impact on how the rest of the day unfolds. How we wake up in the morning has a fundamental impact on how the rest of the day unfolds. There are a few things we can integrate into our morning routine that can have an immediate impact in supporting us in being more mindful, self-compassionate, connected, and resilient throughout the day.
Set your judgments aside and try these out over the next week as an experiment…allow your experience to be your guide.
1. Curate Your First Sounds: Rather than starting the day off with an alarm that makes your body tense and startled, choose an alarm that’s gentle and soothing—chimes, bells, more relaxing music, whatever it might be. This allows your body to take in something soothing to start the day.
2. Hydrate Before You Caffeinate: Rather than going straight for the coffee or tea, see if you can take in a big glass of water. Your body is dehydrated—your body needs water, it hasn’t drank water all night long. Then move to your coffee or tea.
3. Observe Nature: Instead of grabbing your technology to begin with, go outside and take in the sky, take in a tree—allow your eyes and body to take that in. Then move on to starting your day.
HOW TO FIND TIME TO MEDITATE
There is no perfect time to mediate—But you can try these 6 simple steps to find your best time How do you know when it’s a good time to meditate? You will always have other things to do, and you may not always feel particularly inspired to meditate. In order for it to be effective, meditation has to be an appointment that you keep and not something you do when you feel like it. And yet and some points during the day you would derive more benefit from working than meditating, because you are clearing items from the mental landscape that would interrupt your peace of mind. And there is the usual business of life: meetings, reports, classes, and the like, which do not qualify as distractions and cannot always be negotiated. So you have to be flexible and work around busy times. Here are 6 tips for finding time to meditate:
1. Schedule your meditations. Scheduled meditation may seem a little unromantic, a little type-A, a little anal-retentive. But scheduling something means that it’s important. Writing something down, especially writing by hand on a sheet of paper, has a powerful effect on the memory. By writing a schedule for your meditation, you commit to that appointment. You also say to yourself that you value your own well-being enough to take time during the day for yourself.
2. Pick a time with few distractions. The best time to meditate is first thing in the morning, before you’ve had the chance to get too immersed in the activities of the day, so you don’t have to tear yourself away from your work. After sunset is another good time to meditate, especially if you have accomplished what you set out to during the day and feel like you can legitimately call it quits on work for the day. Any later or earlier than these two time periods, and you are likely either asleep or sleepy. So use these two windows if you can: not both, but somewhere in those periods, find a few minutes.
3. Find small holes in your schedule. It’s seems to be a cultural requirement to put on a show of maximum business. But the average day is not a solid wall of activity—it’s more like Swiss cheese. The key to finding a little bit of personal time is to look for the small pockets of air. Remember, we’re talking about only a few minutes at a time. Most people don’t have the luxury of big two-to-four hour blocks of time, but nearly everyone can find one-to-twenty minute blocks.
4. Commit to your meditation schedule. Once you identify the best times to mediate, schedule them and commit them to writing. When you come to the appointed time, drop everything and get settled for meditation. Be aware that something will happen that will tempt you to deviate from the plan: you will get a phone call, a deadline will be changed, your e-mail and social channels will ping repeatedly.
5. Break only for emergencies. Discriminate between the true emergencies that need your attention and the routine miasma of noise that should be avoided. Maybe you have some trouble distinguishing between emergencies and noise. Ask yourself: “Can this wait for a few minutes? Will my reputation be affected if I don’t attend to this right this minute?” Tell your obsessive-compulsive self that you can get right back to whatever issue arises as soon as the meditation is over. You may even have a better handle on the issue after meditation than you did before.
6. Meditate anyway. If you’re still having trouble letting go, meditate anyway. It is better to meditate while distracted than not to meditate at all. If you miss a session because you can’t drop what you are doing, no worries: just get yourself back on track at the next appointed time. But don’t feel the need to atone for your sins by adding the time onto a future session: guilt tripping is not productive. Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names. We all already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit us in many ways.
HOW DO I PRACTICE MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION?
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it. The Basics of Mindfulness Practice
Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:
1. Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
2. Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done, we know.
3. Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
4. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
5. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.
A SIMPLE MEDITATION PRACTICE
This meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the practice you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sounds—wherever your mind goes, simply come back again to the next breath. Even if you only come back once, that’s okay.
1. Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
2. Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
3. Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
4. Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
5. Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
6. Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
7. Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
8. Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
9. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
MINDFUL PRACTICES FOR EVERY DAY
As you spend time practicing mindfulness, you’ll probably find yourself feeling kinder, calmer, and more patient. These shifts in your experience are likely to generate changes in other parts of your life as well. Mindfulness can help you become more playful, maximize your enjoyment of a long conversation with a friend over a cup of tea, then wind down for a relaxing night’s sleep. Try these 4 practices this week:
A. TRY THIS SIMPLE WALKING MEDITATION
TIME: 10 minutes
It’s one of our greatest gifts, and when we manage early in life to use our legs to get around, it’s cause for celebration. Parents call their parents just to report on the event. The very fact that walking— or whatever form of ambulation you use to get around—is so central to our lives makes it a ready focus for mindful, meditative attention. Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking meditation. There are many variations. This one relies on a pace that is close to how we might walk in everyday life, and in fact it can be adapted for walking in the street—just as long as you remember to pay attention to street lights, other people, and not looking like a zombie.
1. Stand up STRAIGHT with your back upright but not stiff. Feel your feet touching the ground and let your weight distribute evenly.
2. Curl the THUMB of your left hand in and wrap your fingers around it. Place it just above your belly button. Wrap your right hand around it, resting your right thumb in the crevice formed between your left thumb and index finger. (This creates some balance for you and keeps your swinging arms from being a distraction.)
3. Drop your GAZE slightly. This helps you maintain focus.
4. Step out with your left FOOT. Feel it swing, feel the heel hit the ground, now the ball, now the toes.
5. FEEL the same as the right foot comes forward.
6. Walk at a STEADY pace, slightly slower than in daily life but not funereal. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the sensations of your feet touching the ground.
B. 5 STEPS TO MINDFUL LISTENING
How often do you feel really listened to? How often do you really listen to others? (Be honest.)
We can’t force others to listen, but we can improve our own listening, and perhaps inspire others by doing so.
Good listening means mindful listening. Like mindfulness itself, listening takes a combination of intention and attention. The intention part is having a genuine interest in the other person—their experiences, views, feelings, and needs. The attention part is being able to stay present, open, and unbiased as we receive the other’s words—even when they don’t line up with our own ideas or desires.
Paradoxically, being good at listening to others requires the ability to listen to yourself. If you can’t recognize your own beliefs and opinions, needs and fears, you won’t have enough inner space to really hear anyone else. So the foundation for mindful listening is self-awareness.
Here are some tips to be a good listener to yourself so you can be a good listener for others:
1. Check inside: “How am I feeling just now? Is there anything getting in the way of being present for the other person?” If something is in the way, decide if it needs to be addressed first or can wait till later.
2. Feeling your own sense of presence, extend it to the other person with the intention to listen fully and openly, with interest, empathy, and mindfulness.
3. Silently note your own reactions as they arise—thoughts, feelings, judgments, memories. Then return your full attention to the speaker.
4. Reflect back what you are hearing, using the speaker’s own words when possible, paraphrasing or summarizing the main point. Help the other person feel heard.
5. Use friendly, open-ended questions to clarify your understanding and probe for more. Affirm before you differ. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view—acknowledging is not agreeing!—before introducing your own ideas, feelings, or requests.
C. BE KIND TO YOURSELF – RIGHT NOW
To be kind to others, you need to start with yourself.
People often find some difficulty in caring for themselves, in receiving love, in believing they deserve to be happy.
Loving kindness meditations point us back to a place within, where we can cultivate love and help it flourish. Developing care toward ourselves is the first objective, the foundation for later being able to include others in the sphere of kindness.
How to Do a Loving Kindness Meditation
This loving kindness practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good qualities to oneself and to others.
1. You can start by taking delight in your own goodness—calling to mind things you have done out of good-heartedness, and rejoicing in those memories to celebrate the potential for goodness we all share.
2. Silently recite phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves in an enduring way. Traditional phrases are:
• May I live in safety.
• May I have mental happiness (peace, joy).
• May I have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain).
• May I live with ease.
3. Repeat the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that is pleasing to you. Direct your attention to one phrase at a time. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself and let go of the distraction.
4. Come back to repeating the phrases without judging or disparaging yourself.
5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love. Perhaps you’ve met them, or read about them; perhaps they live now, or have existed historically or even mythically. That is the circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, sustained by the force of kindness.
D. HOW TO STOP TOSSING AND TURNING AND GET SOME QUALITY SHUT-EYE
As someone who works every day with patients struggling with insomnia, the most common thing I hear is once the head hits the pillow, the brain doesn’t stop. They know sleep should come, but the brain just wants to think about both pressing and mundane things, such as reviewing the day’s events and tasks that need to be completed.
When we lose awareness of the present moment, our minds get stuck in maladaptive ways of thinking. For example, you might be trying to go to sleep but your mind gets lost thinking about all the groceries you need to buy. Deep, relaxed breathing is forgotten. And once you realize sleep isn’t happening, your muscles tense and your thought process quickly shifts to “I’m not falling asleep! I have XYZ to do this week and I won’t be able to function tomorrow.” The body seizes up, breathing and heart rate can both quicken, and falling sleep becomes more difficult.
Newer models of insomnia treatment are beginning to incorporate mindfulness. Here’s a grounding exercise to help you get some quality shut-eye.
1. Dim the lights 1 hour before bedtime. Start winding down the brain and body by dimming the lights. Engage in relaxing activities outside the bedroom that pass the time quietly.
2. Avoid looking at anything with a screen. Stow away your tablet, phone, computer, and TV for the night—the light can keep you awake and alert.
3. Ten minutes before bedtime, begin a focused mindfulness exercise. Sit in a comfortable chair in the same dimly lit room. Imagine the outline of your body and slowly trace it in your head. Keep in mind the amount of pressure you’re feeling against the chair or the ground and be mindful of where there’s more pressure and where there’s less. Start with your head. Is it touching the back of the chair? How heavy does it feel against the chair, wall, or just the air? Then slowly move down to your ear, then shoulder, arm, and leg. Work down to your feet and then back up the other side of your body. Take about five minutes for this exercise.
4. If your mind begins to wander, notice that it wandered and get back on track. Try to avoid judging yourself.
5. Get in bed and focus on your breath. If you are unable to fall asleep, get up, sit in the comfortable chair again and repeat the exercise. Don’t get back into bed until you’re sleepy—and don’t sleep in the chair!