Basic Mindfulness Meditation
The concept of basic mindfulness meditation is to sit quietly and focus attention on something such as a mantra or your natural breathing pattern. While doing so, allow your thoughts to come and go without attaching judgment or meaning to them and continue to focus attention on the mantra or your breathing. To engage in basic mindfulness meditation, try the following exercise:
* Sit straight up in a chair or cross-legged on the floor
* Focus on an aspect of your breathing such as the rise and fall of your stomach as you inhale and exhale
* Once you’re focused on this aspect, widen your focus to include awareness of other breathing sensations such as the flow of air from your nose and out of your mouth
* Continue to widen your focus to include other sensations, sounds, and eventually your thoughts
* Embrace and consider each thought without judging and attaching negative or positive meaning to them
* If your mind strays or races, return focus back to your breathing
* Gradually widen focus and expand your awareness again until you’ve reached a comfortable place and you’re ready to close the exercise
Mindfulness that includes body sensations involves noticing subtle sensations in the body such as itching or tingling and allowing the sensations to pass without attaching judgment or meaning to them. A mindfulness body sensation exercise could include scanning the body from head to toe and noticing every sensation present without assigning judgment to it.
Mindfulness that focuses on sensory elements means noticing those things that align with the five senses- sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. A mindfulness sensory exercise might include naming each sense and drawing awareness or attention to those things that fall into each category without attaching judgment to them.
Mindfulness with an emotional focus allows emotions to be present without judgment. A mindfulness exercise with an emotional emphasis would include naming various emotions such as anger, frustration, or joy and practicing staying calm, relaxed, and steady during the practice. The goal being to accept the emotions without judgment and then releasing them.
Urge surfing is a mindfulness practice used to help people cope with cravings and is mainly used for addictive substances and behaviors. An urge surfing exercise would involve noticing how the body feels when a craving arises, then replacing the desire for the craving to disappear with the conscious knowledge that it will eventually subside.
Perfecting The Practice
It is important to note that the practice of mindfulness is just that, a practice. It takes time to “master” and even then, you can always learn and grow. As you practice mindfulness it’s important to pay attention to the following (Harvard Health Publishing, 2020):
You have to be okay with whatever comes up when you are practicing mindfulness. As various sensations, thoughts, and emotions arise they may be positive or negative. The key is not to become reactive or assign judgment to them, rather to observe them and release them fluidly.
Awareness is essential to mindfulness practice. Paying attention to external sensations without attaching to a particular sensation, emotion, or idea that may arise is key. Rather, the goal should be to be attentive to whatever arises and notice the feelings and thoughts those ideas cause so as to develop deeper levels of understanding.
An exercise for assisting with staying in the present and developing greater levels of awareness is as follows:
* Draw attention to your body sensations
* Breathe in through the nose, allowing the stomach to expand fully
* Breathe out of the mouth
* Pay attention to sensations of each inhale and exhale
* Continue this focus on your breathe deliberately and slowly
* Fully engage each sense one by one so as to take in each sense slowly and deliberately
* If your mind begins to wander draw your attention back to the sensations of your breath
At times, this process can seem very involved and it can fail to be relaxing. You might also feel frustrated as you notice you frequently lose focus in the beginning. However, the key to getting better and more comfortable is to stick with it. Eventually it will increase self-awareness and aid in overall satisfaction and happiness.
“We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day, and night”
How Mindfulness Enhances Personal Growth
When implemented consistently, mindfulness can play a valuable role in enhancing personal growth. Mindfulness adds value by enhancing awareness, reducing reactivity, improving performance, boosting creativity and resilience, and decreasing anxiety and depression. Each of these benefits can be linked to enhanced personal growth.
When you are more aware, you have a deeper understanding of those thoughts, ideas, and emotions that rest behind your actions. This enhanced awareness helps you see those things that may be contributing negatively or positively to your growth and empowers you to make changes as needed. Reducing reactivity means greater control over emotions and a decreased likelihood to respond poorly to situations and events that may arise.
This enhanced level of emotional control sets you up for enhanced success. Boosted levels of creativity and performance combined help you reach your goals and your full potential.
When you are able to be more creative and more productive, you can accomplish more and achieve more and move closer towards becoming a more whole and more fulfilled version of yourself.
Decreased levels of anxiety and depression also promote personal growth because they no longer act as barriers stopping progress due to physical, mental, or emotional health deficits. Rather there is freedom to pursue goals, achieve more, and discover more about self without limitations that might stunt progress.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another, and ourselves”
Mindfulness can be an incredible asset when practiced consistently and intentionally. The conscious practice of becoming more aware of the moment and the present while also learning to free yourself from judgement can lead to a host of benefits for the physical, mental, and emotional body.
Benefits such as improved performance, enhanced resilience, decreased stress, improved relationships, less reactivity, and even improved overall health can all stem from mindfulness practice. Research shows that a session as short as 3-minutes can improve mental and emotional health almost instantly.
Thus, making mindfulness a practice you intentionally implement on a regular basis can prove to help you and those around you in significant ways. Mindfulness should certainly be considered as a practice for generating life changing results.
“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind.
The goal is to find it”
Disclaimer: This publication is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability of its contents or any omissions.
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