Mindfulness & Meditation: Getting started
How do you do meditation and mindfulness? What are they?
These days we hear a lot about Mindfulness and Meditation and their benefits to mental health and everyday life. But what’s it all about? How do you do meditation? Could this be something you could incorporate into your life with positive results? In this week’s blog we hope to demystify mindfulness and meditation. We’ll look at various ways to approach a meditation session and pass on a few tips that are easy to practice, plus we’ve got some great resources to help you find your feet too.
Mindfulness Meditation at a Glance
Mindfulness Meditation is a mental technique used to focus your awareness on the present moment.
It entails spending time focusing only on your senses and allowing your thoughts come and go naturally, without judging or trying to change them.
Over time, meditation can leave you feeling more grounded, connected and in touch with your emotions. It’s proven to help promote mental wellbeing as well as help manage emotional and mental wellness during difficult times.
But whilst meditation may seem straightforward to some people, many shy away from it. You may feel it’s not for you or maybe you’re curious but unsure how to start or what to do during a session. We’ll look at ways to help get you started, but first let’s look at the background to this ancient practice.
A little bit of background
- Mindfulness Meditation has been around for 2,500 years and has been part of psychological therapies since the 1970s.
- It can help reduce stress, boost creativity, improve attention, working-memory & concentration; it can even help strengthen relationships.
- It’s often used to help manage depression, anxiety, chronic pain, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, addiction recovery and relapse prevention.
- And is a useful tool to use if you’re struggling to sleep or suffering with insomnia.
So, meditation is not a new phenomenon. But from its roots in ancient Eastern tradition and the western counterculture of the 60s, these days meditation is well and truly mainstream, as more people discover the benefits it can bring to everyday life. It’s become a well recognised method to provide relief when we’re feeling under pressure, stressed or anxious. It can help manage a variety of mental health conditions and aid sleep.
✔ Get in position
Nothing fancy, just settle into a comfortable position on a chair or lying down. You don’t need to twist your body into a yoga position to meditate. During the day when you’re more alert, you may feel more comfortable sitting up. Whatever your position, just make sure you’re warm and comfortable.
✔Set a time limit
If you’re a beginner, take it slow. Try 2-5 minutes and gradually build it up.
✔Notice your breath
Many types of meditation focus on breathing. Start with a couple of deep breaths, then let it return to its normal pattern. Notice your feelings as the air flows in and out of your nostrils. Put your hand on your stomach and notice it go in and out. If you get distracted by a thought, gently guide your mind back to your breath – it’s a great anchor for your attention. If you find you are being easily distracted, slowly count your breaths – breathe in for a count of 1 and out for 2 and so on…
✔Scan through the body
Being aware of your senses is a great way to move into the here and now. Start at the top of your head, and slowly move your attention through each part of your body to observe how you feel. What do you feel? Tingling? Itching? Warmth? Cool? Tightness? Looseness? Tension? Relaxation? Pain? Don’t linger on any one place for too long, simply acknowledge the sensation and move on.
✔Be kind to your wandering mind
If you notice you’re distracted, don’t give up or beat yourself up about it. This is all part of the process. Just gently guide your attention back to your breath. With practice you’ll become less distracted and will learn to meditate longer.
Helpful Guided Meditation Apps
It’s really helpful to have someone guide you through your meditation, especially if you haven’t done it much before. Whilst it might be an ancient practice, nowadays there’s a great selection of 21st century tools available to support you through it. Here are some fantastic apps that you can use from your phone to help you learn.
Lie back and take that first step…..
As we emerge from lockdown, we’re all experiencing a re-calibration of our lives to some extent, so what better time than now to explore mindfulness and meditation and help restore balance. Simply lie back and take that first step. You never know where it might take you.