Start your wellness journey with mindfulness and gratitude.
In the past couple of months, if you stayed awake until 3 AM, binge ate, and sank into depression, then you are not alone. The global pandemic was tough for everyone. But as vaccines roll out and countries move to flatten the curve, it’s also time to nurture yourself. Make time for self care. Restore your body. Focus on being present. Get back in touch with your emotional and spiritual needs.
Staying mindful is the simplest way to get back on track. If you are a beginner to meditation, here are some tips to help you re-center and find calm.
Create an intentional space for mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us slow down, declutter the mind, and focus on the present. It gives us a moment to pause and reflect. The goal of mindfulness is to be in the moment and connect with your inner self. Over time, we become better individuals. We are more compassionate to ourselves and the world around us. Daily mindfulness practice teaches us to become self aware so we can navigate life with authenticity and confidence.
The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace.J. Donald Walters
You can practice mindfulness any time wherever you are. A simple meditation requires only three things — getting comfortable, finding a quiet place, and setting intentions. To begin, get into a comfortable position. Ideally, you should sit or lay down. But if you need a meditation moment where you are in a crowded public place such as a train or at the grocery store, it might not be ideal to sit or lay down. In this case, you can practice a standing meditation. Just get into a comfortable position and plant your feet so you can ground yourself.
Find a quiet place
Remove yourself from all distractions. Find a spacious room where you feel comfortable, safe, and secure. If you live with roommates or don’t have access to a quiet room, use headphones or earplugs to block external noise. If you prefer to meditate outdoors, a park, beach, or any location by the water is a relaxing place. Just be mindful of your surroundings and be smart if you decide to go alone. Or bring a friend to meditate with you.
Focus on your breathing. Allow yourself to feel your thoughts and emotions as they come. Acknowledge all feelings. There are no “good” or “bad” feelings. Whether you feel anxious, angry, or sad, acknowledge your emotions as a normal part of life. Remind yourself that your feelings are valid. Being able to experience a range of emotions is normal and healthy. In fact, its the most beautiful part of being human. As you meditate, your feelings will become more familiar to you. Focus on feelings of happiness, gratitude, and calm.
Choose a quiet place. It can be a spacious room away from distractions. Or a comfortable and safe location outdoors. Take advantage of guided meditation apps such as Calm.com and Headspace. Set a daily reminder on your smartphone to help you get into a daily routine for meditation.
Easy meditation tips for beginners
If you are new to meditation, the most important thing you need to remember it to breathe. Take slow deep breaths and visualize every part of your body relaxing. Starting from your feet and working your way up, relax every muscle. Visualize each part of your body: arms, shoulders, hands, neck, face, and head. Relax each part of your body gradually. Imagine a beautiful energy around you and above your head. Let this energy envelope you. You are in a safe space. Feel the radiance and abundance of joyful feelings and serenity around you. Let feelings of self love and security fill you.
Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.Jon Kabat-Zinn
Wear comfortable clothes. Loose clothing with light fabric allow you to get into comfortable positions and don’t restrict your belly and chest. This helps you practice breathing techniques for meditation.
Concentrate on each breath. Close your eyes and breathe in… and out at a steady pace. Draw your attention to your center. Locate your solar plexus and heart chakra. Focus on grounding yourself in a calm energy. Pay close attention to the movements of your body, chest, and abdomen. Continue taking deep breaths, controlling the pace and timing of each breath. Hold each breath for three to five seconds. Connect with your emotions. You may notice different thoughts and feelings arise. Let them go. Continue to focus on your body. Sit or stand up straight. If you are laying down, align your spine and allow your arms to rest by your side. Imagine your feelings wash through your body and flow through you. Release any tension and negative feelings of doubt and uncertainty. Imagine them flowing out of your fingertips and toes. Notice positive feelings. Hold on to positive thoughts and feelings as you count each breath. Let those feelings go too as you exhale.
Learn how to get comfortable with your thoughts and emotions. Feelings are just feelings. They come and go. Focus on the present moment with zero judgement. When you focus on your mind, you will notice how cluttered thoughts fill your day. Let go of chatter in your head. Allow yourself to find a moment to escape from mindless planning, obsessing, and worrying about the past and future. The only moment that matters is right now. Stay present. Practice mindfulness and meditation regularly for a few minutes each day and you will notice the difference in a week.
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation trains you to accept and release emotional tension. Daily meditation practice helps you develop resilience, courage, and compassion. By making it a daily practice, mindfulness improves overall emotional well-being. It helps you stay connected to yourself as well as the world around you.
An article published in Mindful.org shows that those who practice mindfulness have a stronger immune system than those who don’t. When the immune system is weak, it becomes susceptible to infections. Mindfulness helps reduce inflammation and increases telomerase activity which helps reduce the risk of cancer and premature aging.
If there is one thing, we can all agree on then it is this: We need more kindness in the world. Mindfulness and kindness are intrinsic for happiness.
Meditation for better mental health
Scientific research proves that meditation affects the brain. According to Harvard neuroscientist Sara Laza, meditation improves the brain in so many ways. Specifically, meditation improves the functions of the left hippocampus, posterior cingulate, pons, and the temporo parietal junction (TPJ) that control learning, thoughts, neurotransmitters, and empathy. It also decreases the size of the amygdala which controls anxiety and stress.
Another article by the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine also shows how completing a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course changes the structure and function of the brain. No doubt that mindfulness meditation can make you kinder, more empathetic, reduce stress, and improve brain function.
Get into the habit of daily meditation. Ease anxiety, embrace uncertainty, practice self love, and express gratitude by living a mindful life. So, what are you waiting for? Jump into your favorite athleisure or PJ’s, shut down the noise, close your eyes, and find your inner calm.