If you plan on developing a mindfulness practice do it with the intention that you will make it a daily commitment. Set aside about 5 minutes in the morning or evening to attend to your practice. As it becomes more comfortable you can add more time to your practice.
Start with the breath
Breath work is a vital but often overlooked aspect of our overall wellness. Typically, as we move through our busy day, we forget to breathe properly. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing is a skill that one can develop. Set aside a few minutes a day to pay attention to your breath. Ideally it will be when you are feeling somewhat relaxed and not when you’re feeling too stressed or anxious. See breathing tips below
- Begin placing your hands on your lower belly.
- Inhale through the nose for 3 beats
- As you inhale, your belly should expand (not your chest).
- Exhale though your mouth for 4 beats
- Practice a few of these breaths every day and notice how your body feels afterward
Utilize meditation apps
There are many apps out there that offer (free) either guided or self-guided meditations. A couple of good ones are: Insight Timer and Smiling Mind.
If you chose to utilize a self-guided meditation begin by setting aside 5 minutes during your day, preferably a time when you will experience limited distraction.
Begin by sitting quietly and practicing your diaphragmatic breathing. As you pay attention to the breath, you will notice thoughts come up. Try and notice them float by and then bring your awareness back to the breath. If it helps, try and visualize yourself sitting outside by a gentle stream. When a thought pops up, watch it drift down the stream and bring your attention back to the breath. Remember, the idea is simple but it is NOT EASY. This is not about clearing your mind, it is about learning how to detach emotionally to thoughts as they come into our awareness.
Enter your practice free from self judgement.
If you are berating yourself that you’re not doing your meditation “right” you are missing the point. Mindfulness meditation is merely the non-judgmental awareness of the present by gently bringing the attention back to the breath. Sounds simple, but it is challenging and does require practice. However, with increased attention to the present moment, we are more easily able to separate ourselves from our thoughts which are often distracting or unhelpful.
Remember, developing any skill takes time and practice. Be present, be patient, be well and most importantly, be good to yourselves.
For more opportunities to explore mindfulness, UCS offers “Mastering Mindfulness” with Anna Gardner LCPC LADC on Thursdays from 3-4.