Exploring Mindfulness and Meditation: A Basic Guide

  • 27th May 2022

Dear Diary,

Life is becoming faster than ever, and we all are trying to keep pace with it. In this struggle to catch up, we can lose our inner peace and precious time.

This can make us stressed, depressed, worried, and judgmental, leading to bigger problems like anxiety and panic attacks.

Luckily, there is a way to prevent and mitigate these effects.

What is meditation?

Meditation is an exercise of exploring your thoughts and the sensations of the body.

Many people confuse meditation with being undistracted. Meditation is a space where you can let thoughts have a free flow, but only momentarily. The idea is to let the thoughts be, without judgment, and pass by you without affecting you.

When we meditate, we venture into the workings of the mind, bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, cravings, and judgements. It is at this point that we learn to carefully watch ourselves experiencing everything and choosing to let it affect us or our lives.

Mindfulness meditation inspires us to give up on judging ourselves. It allows us to experience and unleash our natural curiosity, warmth and kindness for ourselves and others.

Benefits of Practicing Meditation:

When you meditate, you clear the overload of information from your brain and help sort out confusion. The emotional and physical benefits of practicing meditation are:

  • Understanding your pain

  • Increasing self-awareness

  • Focusing on the present

  • Improving imagination and creativity

  • Reducing stress

  • Building concentration

  • Reducing brain chatter

  • Improving sleep quality

  • Increasing patience and tolerance

Basics to Practicing Meditation:

  • Sit comfortably: Find a comfortable, stable, and quiet spot for yourself.

  • Observe the body: Observe the sensations in your body that are taking place while you meditate. Keep your legs touching the floor or cross them comfortably.

  • Keep back straight: Keep your back straight but do not stiffen. Your spine has four natural curvatures. Do not disturb them.

  • Soften the gaze: Calm the muscles of your face and soften your gaze. You can close your eyes if you wish, but it is not necessary. You can keep your eyes open without focusing on any specific object.

  • Feel your breath: Always keep your focus on your breath. The physical sensation of breathing, moving in from your nose to the lungs and out, should be a point of concentration.

  • Bring back the wandering mind: Bring back your consciousness on breathing any time your mind wanders. There is no need to block your thoughts. The idea is to let them flow without them affecting you.

  • Notice the harmony of breathing and focusing: The harmony of your breathing and your focusing on your breathing is the state that you are most aware of and unaffected in. This is the state you need to focus on and stay comfortable in for as long as possible.

What is mindfulness?

A simple word: Mindfulness.

Our awareness arises from paying attention, on purpose. When we are consciously trying to bring our awareness to the present moment without being judgemental, this state is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves being aware of the following:

  • Our selves

  • Our surroundings

  • Ability to exist non-judgementally

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that is often combined with other forms of wellness practices.

Benefits of Mindfulness:

Practicing mindfulness has many health benefits:

  • Mental clarity: Being in the moment helps you appreciate the present and be grateful for your surroundings. It helps boosts your mood and change your attitude about different aspects of your life.

  • Reduces stress: Mindfulness soothes your mind by centering the breathing and focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps people with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety.

  • Better emotional response: Mindfulness meditation improves the regulation of emotions, allowing us to deal with sad or depressive emotions better. Through practicing mindfulness people learn to better cope with discomfort and social anxiety.

  • Improves working memory: Mindfulness meditation helps improve memory. ”Mindfulness training is associated with an increase in hippocampal volume,” says a study. The hippocampus is a region of the brain that plays a key role in working memory and long-term memory.

Ways to Practice Mindfulness:

  • Breathing: Breathing is one of our most natural processes. Practicing mindfulness means focusing on this act of inhalation and exhalation, taking deeper breaths, and being aware of the air as it enters and leaves the body. If your mind wanders, try chanting a mantra to help realign your focus.

  • Eating: A mindfulness exercise that involves slowly consuming food and appreciating the aroma, flavour, and texture of the food.

  • Emotions: A kind of mindfulness training that helps you become aware of your surroundings, your senses, and your emotional triggers.

    Emotions and thoughts can be hard to control, but with routine practice of mindfulness, one can embrace them. Besides, the harder part is to accept them without judgment.

  • Walking: Walking is a practice that blends physical activity with a focused mind in a meditative state. This type of walking involves walking for a specific period, focusing on each step, and breathing as you move. Focusing on the mind and body helps clear obsessive thoughts.

Basics of Mindfulness Practice:

Practicing mindfulness allows us to put space between ourselves and our reactions and break down our conditioned responses.

  • Set aside time: Set aside time for yourself to practice mindfulness. If you are a beginner, a brief period of 5-10 minutes is sufficient.

  • Notice the body: Your posture should be comfortable for you. It does not matter whether you sit on a chair or sit cross-legged. Just make sure to be stable and in a position, you can sit in comfortably for a while.

  • Observe the present: Feel your body’s sensations, your breath, your surroundings and the noises coming from around you. Also, observe how all these things are affecting you, and your emotions. Accept whatever is happening around you so that you can let it go.

  • Be non-judgmental: You will experience many pleasant and unpleasant thoughts while letting your thoughts flow past you. Do not obsess over any content of past actions.

  • Track your focus: It is natural to find your mind wandering. Just come back to focusing on your breath and bodily sensations.

  • Be kind to yourself: Do not be judgmental about your thoughts. Just keep focusing on what is happening now, in the present.

Why practice meditation and mindfulness?

Practicing meditation and mindfulness is like taking a pause and starting with things you need to do.

It is the human ability to be fully present, aware of ourselves and our surroundings, and not react to or be overwhelmed by what is going on around us. The focus is to remember that “you are not your thoughts.”

Having said this, if you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issues, I encourage you to seek professional help if you can. Meditation and mindfulness are not substitutes for that.

That’s all I have for now,

I will write to you soon.

Take care!