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Mindfulness meditation has been practiced around the world for thousands of years as a way to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and the negative thoughts that prevent us from realizing happiness and peace in the present moment.
Today, millions of people continue to make meditation and mindfulness exercises a part of their day to relieve stress and anxiety, cultivate caring relationships, and take refuge in quiet reflection despite daily demands.
So What is Mindfulness Meditation?
We like to describe mindfulness as gentle, curious awareness of the present moment. To support this state of mind, certain exercises can be of benefit.
Mindfulness keeps us connected to the present moment, aware of our thoughts, feelings, and the central truth of our experience.
Perception is like a mirror. We tend to see the world not as it is, but as we are. With mindfulness, the mirror of perception is cleansed, and we learn to see our world without judgment or resistance.
Mindfulness allows us to fully, intimately and kindly engage with our life just as it is. Through mindfulness, we develop an understanding of the connectedness of all things, which leads to greater tolerance and compassion for ourselves and others, and a deep sense of gratitude for our unique path in life.
Mindfulness can satisfy the need for meaning and truth in our life. As you breathe, focus on your breath and take a minute to scan your body. Even this small step can help you gain a greater understanding of the peace that’s available in the current moment.
With some mindfulness practice, you will discover the frequency with which you are:
Mindfulness meditation will take you step-by-step through how to notice these habits (that we all have!) and guide you toward a more and more direct and curious connection with all of your life, just as it is.
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If you have ever caught yourself unconsciously holding your breath, you’re not alone. Often, when we are stressed out or mentally preoccupied with our thoughts, our breathing patterns become shallow, sometimes pausing all together.
To practice mindful breathing, set a timer for two minutes, close your eyes, and draw your attention to your breath. Without forcing your breath in any direction, simply witness the flow of air into and out of your lungs. Note any observable qualities or sensations. Liken your breath to an anchor, rooting you affirmatively into the present moment.
At the end of the day, or at any other time you have an opportunity to rest flat on your back, use your physical body as a tool to practice mindfulness. This body scan can also be practiced in a seated position, though beginners might find it helpful to lie down.
Begin by settling into the space through mindful breath awareness and then draw your attention to your toes. Breathe into this area of the body, witnessing it exactly as it is, and then release your attention on the exhalation. Continue this witnessing and releasing as you scan the entire body. Start with your toes. Slowly scan toward the crown of your head. Then, hold your entire physical being in mindful awareness for another few breaths.
During any interaction we have in the day, we can practice mindful listening to help foster healthy, respectful, and compassionate relationships. As we become better listeners, we are likely to find that others also move in the same direction.
When another is speaking, see if you can tune in more attentively to what is being spoken. Notice the subtle energies that are unspoken. Listen to hear and to understand, rather than to respond, defend, or to be heard. Notice how your interpersonal relationships shift.
Becoming mindful of our emotions is an exercise that can empower and deepen the relationship we have with ourselves, as well as those we have with others. Mindfulness of emotions requires that we tend to whatever is moving through us with non-judgment, compassion, and curiosity.
When emotions are present in mind, see if you can notice where there is also tension in the body. Could the two be related? As you witness emotions moving through you, compassionately note them as energy currents of their own accord. Try not to become heavily attached to their presence. For example, you might notice the presence of anger as opposed to fixating on, ‘I am angry.’
In our busy world, we tend to pay little attention to the food we put into our body. Therefore, mindful eating can help to improve our relationship to food. Noticing our experience with eating can enhance our entire well-being.
When you are eating your next meal, pay closer attention to all five senses. Chew slowly and mindfully, noticing textures, tastes, and sensations with greater curiosity. Invite gratitude into this practice, noting the blessings that are present on your plate and in your belly.
These 5 mindfulness exercises for beginners are simple practices that are frequently practiced by advanced practitioners as well. However, it is their simplicity that makes them excellent launching points for those just stepping into what it means to live more mindfully. Wherever you are in your mindfulness journey, let these exercises serve as a sweet reminder that each breath, each bite, each sensation, and each thought in your lower brain centers is a doorway into a more mindful state of being.
Also, check out our top mindfulness posts and guides here.