When most people think of meditation, they picture just one thing: sitting quietly and clearing your mind.
But did you know there are lots of different styles of meditation? Some help you relax or go to sleep. Others help you focus, cultivate compassion, or develop more awareness.
All meditation styles have great benefits for your body-mind-spirit. But when it comes to boosting your performance and overall well-being, mindfulness meditation is a key tool to have
in your toolbelt.
Why start a mindfulness practice?
Mindfulness helps you build more awareness of your present-moment experience. It helps you tune into your internal state, which maximizes your health and performance. Once you’re more connected to what’s going on in your mind and body, you can then learn to shift your state of mind using self-regulation practices, like reframing your thoughts or using positive self-talk–naturally.
Another benefit of mindfulness is self-regulation. When you’re practiced at observing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judging them, you expand your capacity to flow through life on an even keel. Plus, there are a lot of other health benefits like stress reduction, better sleep, and even boosting your immune system.
But it can feel a little intimidating at first. Here’s how to get started.
How to start a mindfulness practice
- Find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be disturbed.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths.
- Breathing naturally, focus on the sensations of breathing. Maybe the air feels cool inside your nose as you inhale, and warm as you exhale.
- When thoughts pop up, just acknowledge them, let them go, and refocus on your breath.
- It’s okay if you get distracted. You don’t have to clear your mind completely to practice mindfulness. In fact, noticing when you get caught up in thoughts and refocusing on your breath is practicing mindfulness. And it works like building muscle.
- When thoughts enter your mind, you can say, “Thinking, thinking,” and bring your attention back to breathing. You can also tell yourself, “Breathing in, breathing out” as you inhale and exhale, if that helps you stay anchored in the present moment.
Start with just a few minutes a day. And over time, you might gradually increase the length of your practice.
Another approach is to use guided meditations. Guided meditations can be especially useful when you’re new to mindfulness. There are lots of apps with free guided meditations, so you can experiment and find one that works for you.
Remember: there’s no “right” way to practice mindfulness. It’s all about tuning into the present moment to build your inner awareness. Take a deep breath and give it a try.