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meditation mindfulness

The simple definitive guide to meditation and mindfulness

Life in the modern era is total chaos. From the constant outbursts of sound, to the ubiquitous bombardment of advertisements, to the racing taxi cabs, cars, and buses, to the sheer swarms of people, even a simple stroll in the city can be massively taxing on your sensory system. Compound those challenges with having to face the constant conundrum of deciding what to watch on Netflix next, and you could be completely drained by 10 am Saturday morning.

The number of stimuli we have to encounter and sort through on a daily basis can be mind-boggling. On average, we consume three times as much information every day than our 1960s counterparts did. We browse 40 websites a day, and switch between computer programs nearly 37 times an hour at work. Moreover, how often do you hear yourself or other people say the phrase, “I’m so stressed right now”? Research has found that 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago.

In a digitally-overstimulated society with unprecedented levels of stress, it’s important we seek contrasts to the hyperactivity of everyday life. In an exterior world that is always “on,” it’s critical to look inward and find stillness.

One way to address a complex, ever-changing world can be found in a practice which has “evolved from a time older than recorded history.” We’re talking about a meditative or mindfulness practice.

Meditation and mindfulness practices seem to be a topic of constant conversation in the health and self-improvement sphere. 80% of the top world-class performers on the Tim Ferriss podcast cite meditation or mindfulness practices as being a critical daily habit of theirs. Numerous health benefits such as reduced anxiety, enhanced energy levels, and improved immune system function have been found among researchers.

While maybe you’ve heard of many of the benefits of these practices, you might not have actually given the practice a chance to become a daily habit. The thought of starting a meditation or mindfulness practice sounds like a daunting task to many, and others don’t know if they’re doing it the right way at all. To mitigate the fear of the unknown and the complex, we compiled some simple tips and steps to help you start on your way to finding inner-peace and harmony.

meditation mindfulness tips
“Meditation & Contemplation,” by Barbie Fitzgerald. Public Domain via Unsplash.

Tips for starting meditation and mindfulness practices:

1. Create a daily habit of practicing.

2. Keep your definition of meditation simple.

3. Choose your own meditation posture.

4. Avoid rules and restrictions.

5. Quiet your mind.

6. Focus on the present moment.

7. Use the support of your breath to focus the mind.

8. Focus your awareness inside.

9. Pay attention to the experience without judging what’s happening.

10. Don’t judge how well you think you are meditating.

Meditation instructions:

1. Choose a clean, quiet spot, free from distraction, and outside influences. Loose-fitting, comfortable-clothes are suggested.

2. Sit in an easy, relaxed, and comfortable posture, with your back straight but not rigid.

3. Sitting cross-legged on a cushion is ideal, but sitting on a chair is acceptable with both feet on the floor, hip-width apart, and parallel to one another. A comfortable, easy posture is critical.

4. The hands and arms are at ease. You can rest them palms down on your thighs or rest them on your lap, palms up, one hand on top of the other.

5. Bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe in and out in a relaxed, easy manner. Think of your spine extending in both directions.

6. Relax your jaw and allow the back of your neck to soften, and gently elongate as if you were bowing very slightly. Face and eyes are soft. Tongue rests on the floor of the mouth.

7. Chest is open, rib cage expands as you inhale—front, sides, and back—and relaxes as you exhale. Gently close your eyes. If and when your mind wanders during the practice of meditation, bring it back to the awareness of the breath.

meditation mindfulness instructions
“Mountain Lakes Nature Reserve,” by Khürt Williams. Public Domain via Unsplash.

8. Meditate with a simple body scan. Pay attention to each body part while staying with the breath: feet, ankles, calves, shins, knees, thighs, hips, belly, arms, and throat. Notice what’s happening as you move your attention along the body.

Practice once a day for 10 to 20 minutes. It’s important not to force the process. Whatever happens is a part of the meditation process.

Mindfulness instructions

1. Choose a clean, quiet spot, free from distraction and outside influences.

2. Sit in an easy, relaxing, and comfortable posture with the back straight but not rigid. Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes are suggested.

3. Choose an activity or an object (brushing your teeth, eating a piece of fruit, taking a walk, etc.) and do it like a meditation, to “be here right now.”

4. Be open to the moment. Be aware of where your mind is and make a choice about where you want it to be. Center on your breathing so your mind becomes still; open up your attention to what is in the moment without judging. Just relax into the moment.

5. Be aware of thought and physical reaction. If and when your mind wanders during the practice of mindfulness, observe where it wanders; bring your awareness back to the moment as it is and to what the moment holds.

The goal is to increase awareness of present-moment experience in increasingly subtle levels and to strengthen stability of attention to remain aware of each experience as it occurs.

Featured image credit: “Meditate” by Kalen Emsley. Public Domain via Unsplash.

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