Mindful Meditation- What's the Skinny?
Let's be honest. We all have some preconceived idea of what meditating looks like. For many of us, this might involve sitting on a cushion or yoga mat, stretching ourselves into pretzel-like positions, and repeating a humming noise you otherwise wouldn't think of making. If this is what works for you to really help you relax and feel at peace, then that is fantastic! However, this process may not work for everyone.
If you are anything like me, it may be difficult enough to find time to eat breakfast, let alone set up the space and time needed for this way of meditating. Luckily enough, there is no one correct way to practice being mindful and meditation can come in many different forms. Here are some tips on ways to practice mindful meditation:
Focus on your breathing. Whether you are in the comfort of your home, on the bus, or at your desk, you can practice mindful meditation by focusing on your breathing. Practice taking in a breath for three counts and releasing for three counts. You may realize that breathing is not something you think about often! This practice can really ground you and reduce stress or tension you hadn't previously noticed. You may even extend this by trying to notice other sensations in your body or your surroundings. You may notice your fingers tapping on a surface, the strength in your spine as you are sitting up straight, even that your mind tends to wander to tasks you haven't completed for the day. Recognize and accept these thoughts with compassion as you focus back on your breathing.
Go outside. Many people may experience what I like to call the 'wall-to-wall work week'. We wake up, head to work enclosed within a car or bus, spend our day within the walls of our jobs, and finally head back to the walls of our home. Kicking off our shoes at home can definitely feel well-deserved and relaxing, but can sometimes feel a bit stuffy as well. Fresh air can feel almost reviving in these times, whether you are opening a window or taking a trip outside. It may be helpful to escape some of our walls to take in your outside surroundings and ground yourself in the moment. You might focus on the warm breeze flowing, the sound of rain pattering on the sidewalk, or just soak in the sunlight. Really take this time to admire your surroundings and breathe.
Read a book. Reading a book may not necessarily feel like you are taking in the moment, but I challenge you. When you go to grab your favorite book, take a moment before you dive into the story. Take a look at the cover and really hone in on your senses. Notice the colors and the feeling of the letters. Allow yourself to process the emotions and thoughts you may have in this moment, without judgment. This may only take a minute or so to purposefully focus on your book. You might even notice a few details you haven't noticed previously.
Pray. Prayer can be a form of mindful meditation as well. Prayer can be a time (whether long or short) to reconnect with our spirit and perception of our world, recenter ourselves within it, show gratitude, or even recharge ourselves for the road ahead. If prayer is a way you find yourself to do these things, challenge yourself to incorporate this into your daily routine.
Start a gratitude journal. Creating a gratitude journal can be especially relieving to those who enjoy journaling. Journaling can help to recap and reframe the events of the day, finding the positive in even a small situation, and writing out your feelings. Journaling can also come in many different forms: writing a a narrative, drawing, poetry.. the list goes on! I am not someone who feels that they can write about their day regularly, but I do enjoy listing out any noteworthy emotions I might experience and writing at least one thing I am grateful for. This may also be a good time to show compassion toward yourself. You may have experienced a few negatives emotions that day, and during this time you can accept those experiences without judgement.
Meditation and mindfulness are not one size fits all, but rather custom fit to your liking. Meditating can help reduce stress and re-center ourselves within our own world. It is all a matter of finding a way that works for you!
For a guided meditation practice you can also view the video below: