Mindfulness meditation is the single most important health practice for 2017.
But to succeed with mindfulness you need to know how to do it properly.
That’s what this guide is for.
In this ultimate beginners guide to mindfulness meditation you’ll learn everything you need to know about mindfulness meditation, including:
- How to do mindfulness meditation,
- When, where, and why of using mindfulness
- The health benefits of mindfulness.
I wanted to help your family to start using mindfulness. So I created a free guide to teaching mindfulness and meditation to your kids.
Let’s get started.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of the main types of meditation techniques.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing the mind on the present moment.
All it is is focusing on the present moment instead of focusing on your thoughts.
- Focusing on the present moment
- Accepting things as they are
- Being non-judgmental
To see it in action, try the exercise below.
Try this mindfulness exercise for 5 minutes.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe through your nose.
- Focus on the movement of your breath though your nose.
- Do this for 25 breaths.
- When you do this focus on a) being in the present moment, b) accepting things as they are, and c) being non-judgmental.
Notice how wonderfully relaxing this is?
Here are some other things you can be mindful of.
What you can be mindful of:
- Tasks (like washing the dishes)
- Your own body
How Does Mindfulness Work?
The mind is like the sun.
Both the mind and the sun are energy centres. The sun creates heat and light. The mind creates awareness and consciousness.
The beams of the sun radiate outwards, spreading light onto all they touch.
The mind radiates consciousness, which enables us to see the world.
Without the sun, we wouldn’t see.
And without consciousness we wouldn’t see either.
However, the rays of the sun get blocked by clouds. And then the world turns dark.
And the rays of the mind get blocked by thoughts. Stress, concerns, worries… these all make it harder for us to see clearly. They make the world a darker place.
You know how you’re not happy when the weather is crappy? Well you’re not happy when your consciousness is crappy either.
When the sun is clear and the skies are blue, you feel good.
And when the mind is clear and your consciousness is pure, you feel good.
Now here’s the deal:
Mindfulness clears the mind so you can see clearly without the clouds.
So Why Aren’t We Mindful All The Time?!
If mindfulness is so easy and so good for us, why don’t we just do it all the time?!
The problem is that we repeatedly forget to be mindful.
Thoughts stir in the mind as the clouds in the sky. And when the mind gets too full of thoughts, we lose our mindfulness.
Have you ever experienced days when you were living in your own mind? Days when you weren’t paying attention to what was happening around you? At those times you might say you were being mindless. You were ignoring reality and focusing only on your thoughts. Did you notice how you started to feel negative / cad / anxious / stressed at those times?
When you are not mindful you are much more likely to experience negative emotions.
Those are the moments when you need to take affirmative action to be more mindful. You need to do mindfulness meditation so you regain your mindfulness.
So here’s the deal:
- Mindfulness is the way we naturally are. And it feels good!
- But sometimes we become mindless. We become full of thoughts.
- At those times we need a top-up.
- To become mindful once again, we practice mindfulness meditation.
The Spiritual Meaning Of Mindfulness
The term “mindfulness” comes from Pali (an Indian language).
In Pali, mindfulness means Remembering.
Mindfulness means remembering.
Because the purpose of mindfulness meditation is to train the mind to remember to focus on the present moment.
That’s the basis of all mindfulness techniques.
Mindfulness is about training the mind to remember to focus on the present moment.
It seems remarkably simple, doesn’t it? Just focusing on the present moment. That’s all it is. And yet the act of focusing on the present moment will change your life for the better, as it has changed the lives of many millions of people around the world.
So just what are the benefits of mindfulness meditation?
Health benefits of mindfulness
Take a look at this list of 100+ health benefits of meditation.
In that article I share all the scientifically proven health benefits of meditation. And a lot of those benefits are based on mindfulness meditation.
Benefits of mindfulness include:
- Improved confidence
- Relief from anxiety
- Relief from depression
- Improved cardiovascular functioning
- Improved sensory observation and awareness
- Relaxation and calmness
- Heightened propensity for love and compassion
- And much more
You’re probably eager to begin mindfulness meditation now right?
So how do we do mindfulness?
How To Do Mindfulness Meditation
If you’ve never practiced mindfulness meditation before you are going to be amazed by how simple it is.
It’s three steps.
- Get comfortable
- Focus on your breath
- When your mind wanders bring it back to the breath.
And this is where everyone says, “Surely it can’t be that easy”.
Oh yes, Grasshopper, it really is that easy
Steps for being successful in mindfulness
A lot of people say “Mindfulness doesn’t work for me!”
Yeah, it does.
But you have to do it properly.
So how do you do mindfulness properly?
How to practice mindfulness properly
- To start with, mindfulness meditation is a relaxing activity. To relax, you need a relaxing environment.
- Take a look at my free guide to designing a meditation space. It will show you how to create an environment conducive to meditation.
- Go slow. Seriously. Mindfulness is entirely about slowing down the mind. IF you rush into it you’re kinda missing the entire point, silly!
- Set a meditation timer. That way you will know how long you’re meditating for and you will not be the guy in my meditation classes who’s always “What’s the time…?!”
- Turn your phone off
- Turn the T.V off
- Make sure you are comfortable
- Tell yourself that you are going to focus 100% on mindfulness for the next 20 minutes.
- Make sure you’re not hungry (it is harder to focus, plus, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry”)
Check my guide to the basics of meditation. It will set you up for success.
Now we are ready.
So let’s actually do a mindfulness meditation.
How to do mindfulness meditation.
- Sit comfortably with good posture. You can sit on a chair, on the floor, park bench, wherever you like. Just make sure you’re comfortable.
- Place your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Let you wrists drop so that your hands are placed gently on your lap. You can choose to adopt one of the meditation mudras if you like. But what really matters is that you are comfortable.
- Drop your chin and let your gaze drift softly downwards.
- You can choose to either keep your eyes open, to let your eyelids drop so your eyes are partially closed (three quarters closed is good) or completely close your eyes. But do not focus on your vision.
- Relax for a few minutes.
- Focus on your breathing. There are lots of different types of breathing meditations, of which the most important is Anapanasati meditation.
- Read this guide to Anapansati meditation so you are breathing the right way.
- Focus your mind on your breathing, paying particular attention to how your breath flows between your lips and through your nose.
- Be mindful of the rising and falling of your breath in your abdomen.
- At times you will notice that your focus wanders. This is inevitable. When this happens simply relax and gently bring your focus back to your breathing.
- When you feel that you need to move, or you get an itch, take a moment to just sit still. Then consciously decide to move. It’s important that you consciously make the decision to move as this will train your mind to be inwardly still.
- When thoughts arise, accept them. Do not try and push them back and do not judge them. Just observe them and let them come and go.
- At the end of your mindfulness practice, open you eyes and lift your gaze. Sit still and be mindful of the sounds around you.
- Notice any feelings in your body.
- Notice any thoughts.
- Take a moment and consciously decide to carry on with your day.
- To take it further, try these 6 mindful exercises.
Mindfulness can be anything
Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment.
It is. And there are very many different ways in which we can be mindful.
It’s a surprisingly simple activity. And you can do it in many different ways.
Seriously, take a look at these 25 mindful habits you can start right now. That’ll give you an idea of just how many ways there are of being mindful.
Mindfulness can be anything.
For example, try the exercise below.
More mindfulness exercises
A lot of people tend to think of mindfulness as one specific exercise.
In truth it isn’t an exercise at all. It’s a way of being
As Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D [a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin] told The New York Times:
“In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘mindfulness is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activity, not a single thing.”
As such, there is no one mindfulness exercise.
Instead there are a million different ways in which you can be mindful.
You might like to try these mindful writing activities, which are excellent for beginners.
You know yourself better than anyone.
Look out for ways to integrate mindfulness into your lifestyle.
What to do after mindfulness?
You now know mindfulness.
What should you do next?
Take a look at my Buddhist Meditation Plan for Beginners. It will show you the different Buddhist meditations and how to actually use them in your life.
I truly hope you have enjoyed this introduction to mindfulness meditation.
It would mean the world to me to hear from you.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
And if you found this guide useful / entertaining, remember to share.