(Article & Video) - Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
The Types of Mindfulness Practice
While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques. Here are some examples:
Seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep);
Short pauses we insert into everyday life;
Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice
When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.
Mindfulness meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others.
Mindfulness Is Not All in Your Head
When we think about mindfulness and meditating (with a capital M), we can get hung up on thinking about our thoughts: we’re going to do something about what’s happening in our heads. It’s as if these bodies we have are just inconvenient sacks for our brains to lug around.
Having it all remain in your head, though, lacks a feeling of good old gravity.
Meditation begins and ends in the body
It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. That approach can make it seem like floating—as though we don’t have to walk. We can just waft. But meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. That very act can be calming; since our body has internal rhythms that help it relax if we give it a chance.
The Basics of Mindfulness Practice
Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.
Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.
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