mindfulness meditation - A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Meditation

mindfulness meditation - A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Meditation 

And I am here to talk to you today about mindfulness. So mindfulness is a practice that can help you cope with stress, anxiety, and depression -- it’s even been found to improve sleep and to help people manage chronic medical conditions. So given that mindfulness has so many amazing benefits, I wanted to share a little bit about what mindfulness is and how you can start your own mindfulness practice today. So first off is well,

 what is mindfulness?

 Mindfulness is a practice of intentionally bringing our full awareness to the present moment and noticing things just as they are– without judgment. So, if you pay close attention to your mind, most of the time, our mind isn't actually in the present moment here and now. Even right now–you might be thinking about what snack you’re going to eat after this video ends...or you might be thinking about a news story that you read right before this. So either the past or the future. 

So a perfect example of this is driving somewhere we’ve been many times. You may find that you are so used to making this drive that you’ve arrived at your destination as if by autopilot without remembering the specifics of your drives to get there. 

So, the present moment though is the only time over which we have any control–we can’t change the past or do things in the future–we can only change things in the here and now. So even when our minds are in the present moment, we likely aren’t bringing a full awareness to our experience. So, then the question is how do I start practicing mindfulness? The good news is you can start right here and right now in this video. So here’s a simple mindfulness exercise –just like, pick up what object is closest to you – so let’s say this pen. Usually, I jot down notes with this pen without giving it a second thought...but I can practice mindfulness and cultivate a full awareness by trying to really, truly experience the pen with my senses. 

So first, the sense of sight–so I can take a look at this pen. I can notice the colors, how the light shines off of it, it’s black and white, I notice the logo right here. And then I can move and turn my full awareness to the sound. Listening to the clicking of the pen and how it sounds when it clicks. Then, I can take a minute and turn my attention to my sense of touch: the texture of what the pen feels like, the contrast between the plastic, the metal and the soft grip. If the object nearest to you is food in which case, I like your style. You can not only focus on the sight, the sound and the touch of the object, you can also smell it and taste it, too. Really noticing, as if for the first time, how that food smells and tastes. So go ahead, pause this video if you want and try it for yourself. 

The practice is best done slowly so you can really bring full present-moment awareness to each of your five senses. So sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Taste is optional, please do not eat your pen or other household objects. Or, you can use this as an excuse to grab a snack so you can practice eating mindfully with all five. So, I know what you might be thinking right now–whether you paused this video or not: How is this helpful again? Well, mindfulness helps us to become more aware of all of our experiences. Maybe during that practice, you noticed yourself thinking, “what’s the purpose of this?” or “how is this supposed to help me with my stress?” That’s great! So you not only noticed your experience of the object but you noticed your thoughts about the experience too. Mindfulness is awesome like that because it helps us to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and then to notice how these things can change from moment to moment and affect us. 

This awareness can open our eyes to choices we may not have realized were there and give us a freedom to respond differently, rather than to react in our usual, autopilot way. So when you do any kind of mindfulness practice, you may notice your mind wanders away from the present moment, many, many times–that’s okay, that’s part of being human and part of the practice is bringing your mind back to the present moment. So, the goal is NOT to clear or empty your mind or to prevent thoughts from happening in the first place, but rather the goal is to observe with curiosity when your mind has wandered, and then gently, without judgment, bring your attention back. So, the good news is there are a lot of different ways to practice mindfulness, and a quick Google search will show you there are lots of resources online and many of them are free! There is no wrong way to start, so feel free to dive in. So formal mindfulness practice is called mindfulness meditation. You might start by trying out a body scan meditation–so that involves observing your body from head to toe, focusing on each body part and noticing, without judgment, any sensations that will arise. Another way to practice mindfulness just involves observing your breathing. Or, in the same way you practiced mindfulness earlier in this video with food or an object, you can practice by bringing that same quality of full awareness into any daily activity. So that could be washing the dishes, eating, petting your dog or walking. 

Mindfulness is a lot like exercise actually, so walking is a great way to practice it. So mindfulness and exercise can both have a huge positive effect on our health and just like exercise, mindfulness is most effective when it’s practiced regularly. Although it can be a hard practice to develop, even small amounts can be beneficial. So if you’re ready to dive into your own mindfulness practice, I would recommend that you start with setting a small goal for yourself –even 3 to 5 minutes of mindfulness practice a day can be very beneficial. When you are practicing mindfulness, it’s helpful to not expect a certain outcome. Also like exercise, the benefits are in the practice itself and it’s not always easy to see any sort of progress or change. If you stick with it though, you may be surprised by what you notice over time! So thank you guys so much for joining me today! I hope you learned a little bit more about mindfulness that inspires you to learn even more. 

Be sure to follow Iora Primary Care on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for other videos like this one. Take care and be well! 

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