Sincerely paying attention to ourselves and our surroundings can be a challenge this day and age. This mindfulness for beginners’ guide will help you find your center. Especially during a time where being mindful and feeling grounded is essential.
In this article:
- What Is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
- Mindfulness Basics | Mindfulness for Beginners
- 5 Mindfulness Techniques to Focus on the Present
- 3 Daily Mindfulness Tips You Need to Start Doing
Introduction to Mindful Meditation | What You Need to Know
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of being fully present and engaged wherever you are regardless of what you are doing at the moment. You are rid of any distraction or judgment and fully aware of your feelings and thoughts without being overwhelmed by them.
Mindfulness is something we all can naturally do, and it’s a skill we can develop through meditation. By training our “mindfulness muscle,” we can apply this skill to our daily lives.
To be mindful is to become aware of what your senses are experiencing or what your current state of mind is based on your thoughts and emotions. And to do this, you ultimately have to teach your mind how to become present and not be beholden to reactive thoughts or feelings.
If you want to know your current mindfulness level, you can use this 15-item questionnaire developed by researchers called the Mindful Attention Awareness Score or MAAS.
Mindfulness and Meditation
To understand these two better, let’s list down what mindfulness is and isn’t.
- Mindfulness is a way of life wherein we remember and can step back and be in the present in any situation. It’s not a temporary state of mind only present during meditation.
- Mindfulness makes us more aware of unpleasant feelings and thoughts brought on by stress, and allows us to react more calmly and empathically. It does not, in itself, get rid of stress and difficulties.
- When one practices mindfulness, it does not mean one never gets angry. Instead, it allows the person to be more thoughtful in their response.
Meditation is an exploration and not a fixed destination. Contrary to popular belief, the mind does not have to be completely free of thoughts and distractions.
The point of meditation is to get us in tune with our minds—our sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Your first few tries with meditation will allow you to be aware of the here-and-there for a short period of time, but regular practice will help in being one with the present moment throughout the day on the daily.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
The practice of mindfulness meditation requires us to suspend judgment so we can become curious about how the mind works. It asks us to approach our experiences with kindness and warmth to ourselves and others.
Mindfulness meditation changes not only our perspective and mindset but also our brains. Studies on generalized neuroimaging meditation found 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation changes our brains, rewiring them to have more positive emotions and thoughts.
Meditation shifts our brain waves from high-frequency to lower frequency waves. This activates and potentially deactivates certain parts of the brain.
Meditation can reduce neurological connections to the medial prefrontal cortex decreasing negative responses like fear, anxiety, and stress. Additionally, it builds new pathways to the areas of the brain involved in decision-making and focus.
On top of these, mindfulness meditation can change the shape of our brain, a process called neuroplasticity.
Studies show regular practice of meditation can increase gray matter and the cortical thickness.
Gray Matter Definition: Part of the neurologic system involved in emotional regulation, problem-solving, and planning
Cortical Thickness Definition: Refers to the size of the cortex, the part responsible for memory and learning
Mindfulness Basics | Mindfulness for Beginners
1. Allocate Time and Space
You are not required to use a meditation cushion or any kind of equipment to practice mindfulness, but you have to set some time and space.
2. Pay Attention to the Present Moment as It Is
The goal isn’t to quiet the mind or attempt to achieve a long-lasting state of calm. Instead, it is to pay attention to the present moment with no judgment.
3. Do Not Resist Judgments
When you feel judgments surfacing during the practice, acknowledge them and let them pass.
4. Return When Preoccupied with a Thought
The mind will get carried away in thought—this is normal. Mindfulness is all about awareness and returning to the present moment.
5. Be Gentle with the Wandering Mind
When thoughts arise and the urge to break off the session follows, do not judge yourself. Be kind to your own mind.
Recognize when it’s wandering off and slowly bring it back.
5 Mindfulness Techniques to Focus on the Present
1. Body Scanning
This method uses meditation to connect with the body. You have to scan your body from head to toe taking note of any sensation, discomfort, or indicator of anxiety or stress.
2. Mindful Breathing
With this one, you use your breath as an anchor for the mind to maintain awareness. Simply focus your attention on the rise and fall of the chest.
As its name suggests, you focus on a person or an abstract object. The goal is for the familiar image to help create and maintain focus.
4. Resting Awareness
This method requires the mind to rest and let thoughts surface. The idea is you don’t let your thoughts distract or pull you away from the present, they just leave and vanish.
In this technique, you have to note a specific feeling or thought when you start to get distracted when meditating. Noting can help you create a space and understand your habits and tendencies more.
3 Daily Mindfulness Tips You Need to Start Doing
We don’t always have the time to sit down in a quiet place to meditate. This doesn’t mean you can’t slip some meditation sessions into your everyday life, though.
- Practice mindfulness while doing activities you love like swimming, running, gardening, or cooking.
- Meditate while doing your chores, walking to work, or even eating your lunch.
- Meditate when something triggers you. Instead of reacting negatively, choose to breathe and watch your headspace when something sets you off.
Whatever mindfulness technique you choose, slowly incorporating it into your daily life can greatly benefit your health and well-being. As you start, you may find your mind getting distracted by negative thoughts and emotions throughout the day but the more you practice it, the closer you are to mastering the skill.
Enjoy this infographic, and if you like consider sharing it with others to spread more mindfulness!
You can also watch this short video for a quick instruction to learn mindfulness practices so you can control your thought and focus better.
Have you given mindfulness a try before? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below!