In the midst of a whole lot of chaos in our world right now, taking up a daily mindful meditation practice might be the single most powerful thing you can do. Why? A growing and impressive amount of research shows that practicing mindfulness for just a few minutes a day can actually rewire the neuronal connections in our brains and literally change the physical structure of our most complex organ. Mindfulness is a simple and effective way to train your brain to stay in the present moment. Doing this yields almost immediate benefits including; enhanced emotional control and reduced physical and emotional stress in the body.
According to Mindful.org, Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.
How Do I Start a Mindfulness Practice?
Mindfulness allows us to create time and space in between what’s happening to or around us and the emotional and physical reactions that we have to these events. You don’t need any special equipment or training to start a mindfulness practice. You just need a healthy dose of curiosity and self compassion. You won’t get it perfect the first time, and to be honest, there’s no reason to ever “get it perfect.” That’s kind of the whole point of mindfulness. So what can we do?
Intentionally pick a time and space to practice mindfulness. 5 minutes and a quite space is perfectly fine for your first time.
Notice the moment you are in. Notice your breath, the temperature of the air around you, the sounds you hear, the way you can feel your breath coming out of your nostrils. You don’t need to “go deep” or clear your mind of thoughts. There is no way you can do this practice wrong. Just observe what’s happening inside and around you.
Acknowledge the judgments your mind makes and then let them go. An integral part of mindfulness is noticing our own judgmental thoughts and deciding to “let them roll away” from us. It’s okay to think “man, it’s cold in here and I hate the cold.” The challenge is to let that judgment go so you create more space for observing how you think and feel. If it helps to say to yourself, “yes it’s cold, but that’s okay,” then let that be your mantra.
When your mind wanders, which it will, just nudge it back to the present. Notice when your mind wanders and let it be a gentle reminder to focus on the hear and now. No judgment, just observe and come back to the present.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Focusing on your breath will help as breath grounds us, mind and body, to the present moment. Your brain is like a muscle and will get better and better at mindfulness, the more you practice. Be gentle with yourself and let yourself enjoy the journey.