Tips and thoughts on how to start practicing mindfulness and meditation
- The key to mindfulness for me has been becoming aware of my breath and noticing where I’m holding tension in my body.
- When we are conscious of our breath, in any given moment we can access more space in ourselves. It doesn’t matter what’s happening – whether you are racing to meet a deadline or are in a heated conversation with your spouse – taking a conscious breath can help shift your mindset about the situation. You might have to take several conscious breaths and keep returning to it for very difficult situations – but it’s something that has never failed me.
- Give yourself time to sit every day. It can be at work or home – where ever you remember to do it. Just take a few minutes to slow yourself down and breathe. It might feel a little boring or uncomfortable at first – but give it a try. Practice slow, deep breathing, let your shoulders relax, soften your face and get out of your head – just allow yourself to enjoy the connection to your life force. You can pick it all back up again – just give yourself a few minutes to slow yourself down. Carving out a few minutes every day of mindful breathing can help you have a reference point for practicing in your daily life.
- If you aren’t into cultivating a sitting practice, take a walk and practice mindful movement. You don’t need to sign up for a yoga or tai chi class unless you are drawn to it – but it can be very effective to just to get outside in the middle of the day and breathe in fresh air – let the sun shine down on you or feel the crispness of the cooler damp days. Look around and just enjoy being outside even for 3-5 minutes and build on it. This helps tremendously with managing stress.
- Become aware of what’s happening in your body. Our bodies can provide a great deal of information in how we are not fully engaging in life. For example, if you are in an important conversation with someone at work, bring awareness to your jaw as the person is talking. Is it tight? Are you really listening or are you already preparing your answer in your head? Explore how it feels to soften your jaw if it’s tight – or relax your shoulders if they are pinched up. Notice if it helps to bring more connection and engagement into your conversations.