Gone are the days when people referred to spirituality as a new-age fad. In recent decades, spirituality and mindfulness have become more mainstream as people seek answers to some of life’s most pressing questions.
Getting in touch with your spiritual side is not a linear process and there will be struggles on the road to self-discovery. However, as you are new to mindfulness, learning how to meditate for greater mental clarity and detaching from the stressors of the outside world may seem like a daunting task.
Keep reading to learn more about mindfulness meditation and how to make it your own.
Define What Mindfulness Means to You
The basic definition of mindfulness is to be inwardly focused to the point that you are not negatively impacted or overwhelmed by outside events. Every human possesses some level of mindfulness, but it can only be refined when we regularly practice it.
Turning inward through mindfulness allows us to effectively address our thoughts and emotions and gain the clarity needed to make lasting changes. Although there are plenty of resources out there that will tell you what mindfulness is, only you can determine what it means to you.
Meditation is all about exploring—exploring what feels good and what doesn’t, exploring how internal thought and external situations affect you and exploring ways to work through issues. Meditation and mindfulness are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there is no way to have one without the other. They work in tandem by helping us slow down and process things as they happen with thoughtfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is an individual experience and the process and even the results will be different for everyone. However, here are some common benefits of mindfulness meditation: improved focus at work and at home; reduced stress; increased ability to empathize with and relate to others; enhanced moods, even in the face of adversity.
Start with the Basics
If you are new to mindfulness meditation, it is best to start with the basics. The reason people say that meditation is a practice is that it takes regular practice for you to derive the greatest benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness meditation is not about completely removing all thought. It is a method for processing and clearing thoughts that no longer serve you. The practice also helps you attain greater clarity on ideas you may have. The overall goal of mindfulness meditation is to calm your brain and just ‘be.’
Take these steps to begin practicing mindfulness meditation. First, choose a place that you can be undisturbed for a few minutes. This can be an office with a door or your bedroom. Then, focus on slowing your breath. Be mindful of how your body feels during inhalation and exhalation.
It is okay to close your eyes, but it is recommended to meditate in a seated position to avoid falling asleep. Don’t worry about distractions. Our world is fast-paced and there will inevitably be distractions during meditation. Just do your best to enjoy the pause in your day.
Dispel Misconceptions about the Practice
There are plenty of common misconceptions about mindfulness meditation. This is why it is so important to define what it means to you. Often, people begin practicing meditation as a way to feel better immediately. While meditation can certainly help you feel better in the moment, it is not a panacea for all of life’s problems.
For those who struggle with negative thoughts, meditation is only one piece of the puzzle. It is easy to become discouraged when you don’t feel like meditation is fixing your negative thoughts or behaviors.
Another common misconception has to do with the amount of time you can expect to spend in mindfulness practice. Everyone’s meditation style is unique to them so there is no set amount of time that one should spend meditating. Instead, focus on your journey and what feels good to you.
All people have some source of inner conflict that impacts their outside lives. Regularly practicing mindfulness meditation is one of many ways to address it. Quieting your mind can be done practically anywhere and is a great way to begin to process thoughts and feelings.
Focus on just being still and letting thoughts come and go as they please. The ability to focus on the moment during mindfulness meditation will undoubtedly impact how we show up in the work and can help us make better decisions, understand others more deeply, and help foster lasting change.