I have been wanting to write a piece on meditation and mindfulness for a while now. And yet, there are two reasons I haven’t done so:
- Meditation is a personal and often sacred practice- making it hard for me to voice my opinion on the matter without affecting people’s feelings, stressing them out and/or offending them.
- A lot has been written about the benefits of mindfulness, as well as people’s personal experiences and practices. However, I do not really see the point in following someone’s exact mindfulness practice.
Instead, I decided to write about the simple ways in which YOU can easily establish your own mindfulness practice, without comparing it to anyone else’s.
Identify why you think you might benefit from becoming more mindful
Before you plug in your earphones or jump into your yoga pants, determine WHY you want to establish a practice. A typical answer will most-probably have to do with the incessant thinking most of us deal with on a daily basis, which may manifest itself through insecurities, anxiety, difficult relationships etc.
In truth, you really don’t need a reason other than “I want to feel better” for wanting to become more mindful, but, as with any practice, it helps to set an intention. You might want to focus on practicing more self-love, more empathy towards others, or not letting stress get the better of you.
Different ways of being mindful
I am thinking I should have put this up as a first point because there is some ambiguity around what it actually means to be ‘mindful’- it even tends to stress people out. I get it, it is a big, overused word. But fear not! It simply means to establish a (general) ability to focus on letting go some of the thoughts that occupy your mind all day (and even night!)- thus becoming more ‘mindful’ of the present moment.
Ways you might already be doing this:
- (Re)connecting with nature
- Switching of your electronics
- Focusing on your breath
- Moving your body
- Taking a bath (ha!)
Now, you might be thinking that this list seems annoyingly simplistic but there really is no need to immediately start off with a 90-minute Yoga session followed by 20 minutes of meditation, every single day. Focus on the little things you already do and turn them into habits!
Establish the habit
I know I made it seem a though you didn’t really need a rigid practice (you don’t), but becoming more mindful does require focus, effort, and (a bit) of dedication. You need to make a conscious, repeated effort to calm down your mind.
Determine how much time you have at your disposal everyday and start setting up a mini ‘practice’.
Go for a silent walk in nature and focus on your breath, put your phone away for an hour a day and start easing in to the idea of meditation (10 minutes will do!), start a gratitude diary, read some of your favourite mantras, or stretch upon rising. All of these things will slowly but surely lead you to a more stable and sustainable meditation practice.
Keep it private
Okay, so here’s a tiny bit on my personal experience with meditation. When I first saw a meditation teacher as a child (I know what you’re thinking: “why?!”) the most important thing I took away from our sessions was to keep my ‘mantra’ secret (we used to do mantra meditation). I didn’t, of course. Yet, looking back now, I wish I had.
Once you share the details of your practice you take away some of its power. You open up the one place within yourself where you are completely free from thought and judgment. Opening this up might make it harder to access that sacred, comfortable, warm, and light place when you need/want to. You get it.
Ready to get started? You might find some of these resources useful:
- Headspace (I dare you not to get addicted to Andy Puddicombe’s voice!)
- Calm (another meditation app with nature sounds)
- Cody (for Yoga)