Mindfulness is a term we frequently hear these days. What is it? In simple terms, mindfulness is living in the present. It is about being aware of what we are thinking and happening in real-time. It is about accepting without judgement.
The most common doubt people have is whether mindfulness and meditation are the same thing – they are not. The most fundamental difference is that mindfulness focuses on being aware of what you feel in the present. In contrast, meditation focuses on not being aware of distracting sensory stimuli so that the mind can move to a place beyond the here and now.
Remember that mindfulness and meditation are not two watertight terms; instead, they are interrelated. Meditation is a practice or technique through which mindfulness is achieved. Mindfulness Meditation is a guided meditation to overcome stress. A relaxation technique that uses meditation to focus on what you are feeling, without judgement and without trying to interpret it. It mainly involves breathing methods and use of imagery.
Health is more than just the absence of illness. In the same way, Mindfulness relieves you of anxiety, tension, stress and all the related diseases and conditions. The benefits go well beyond helping you relax, helping in self-acceptance and building an accepting rather than a rejecting attitude.
Simple steps to practising mindfulness meditation:
Set aside a time: Fix a time wholly set apart for it at a time in the day that works for you (ideally every day – it can be as little as 3-5 minutes). Remember this is about relaxation. So if you are unable to do it one day, don’t beat yourself up, just focus on making the time for it tomorrow. You can consider setting a timer, so you are not distracted or possibly spending more time than you can afford to.
Be comfortable: You don’t need anything special just ensure that you have a comfortable place to sit in.
Breathing: once you are all ready to start, just sit still and focus on your breathing, on the air moving in and out of your nose, on the way your tummy rises and falls with each breath. If thoughts come to you while doing this, briefly acknowledge them, and go back to focusing on your breathing
This is essentially what mindfulness meditation is about – refocusing your thoughts on your present by controlling your breathing. The trick is to notice your thoughts without getting carried away. If fear or grief or anxiety invades the comfortable space you are creating for yourself, don’t panic; it is alright. Allow yourself to note that you feel anxious or sad, and then gently return your mind to focusing on your breathing.
Mindfulness meditation is not a goal; instead, it is a practice, and this means, you never have to worry about achieving a gold standard with it. You can start with a few minutes a day, commit to it, and watch as your life improves because of it.