There’s a big emphasis on mindfulness these days. And it may leave you wondering: what the heck is mindfulness and why should I give a damn?
Mindfulness is simple. It is the practice of being present. Being mindful means you are aware of what is going on right now. Not 2 minutes ago, not yesterday, and not what is going to happen in one hour or one week.
The future and the past are not important. Right now is. When you begin to practice mindfulness, you’ll find it benefits so many different aspects of your life. But most importantly, it gives you a base of calm contentedness to which you can always return.
How can you practice mindfulness?
When people think of mindfulness they think of yoga and meditation. And for many, the next thing they think is “oh I should be going to yoga/meditating.”
Stop right there. That “I should be” attitude isn’t serving you. Who cares what you should be doing? When you say that, do you mean to say “I want to be doing…”? If the answer is yes (and it probably is) it’s time to bring mindfulness into your life.
If you’ve never tried yoga before, the idea of going to a fancy studio and struggling to put your body into an impossible pretzel shape can be intimidating. Not to mention expensive. And maybe you genuinely don’t have an extra hour in your day to dedicate to down doggin’. That’s ok.
The easier, more effective, and much more relaxing way to practice mindfulness is yoga’s less popular older sibling: meditation.
Oooooh, your mind cringes. I don’t think I can sit still for that long. I don’t have time. I don’t…
Good news! Everyone has time to meditate! Even better news! There is no right or wrong way to meditate! So let’s get down to it….
How To Meditate (In 3 Easy Steps!)
- Sit down. If sitting cross-legged on the floor is uncomfortable, sit in a chair. Sit with your back against a wall. Sit on your knees. Get the picture? Sit in any way as long as you are comfortable.
- Close your eyes. I shouldn’t have to explain that one.
- Breathe. Focus on your inhale, then your exhale. If it helps you, count your breaths or say the words “inhale” and “exhale” as you do it.
Do this right now for one minute.
That’s it! You’re done! You started meditating! You are already a success!
Now, you may be thinking: Megan, get real. It isn’t that easy. My mind starts running the second I close my eyes, I start thinking about things I have to do tomorrow, or that embarrassing thing I said yesterday, or that time in second grade when Jimmy stole my crayons…
Your mind will wander, and that’s ok!
That’s right, it’s OK if your mind begins to wander. When your mind begins to wander, here is what you can do:
Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking and how does it make you feel? Then return to your breath. Inhale. Exhale.
You will get frustrated with yourself. That’s ok. Notice the frustration and then let it go. Go back to your breath.
Begin, right now, with 1 minute of meditation. Then 5 minutes. Maybe after a week or a month, you move on up to 10 minutes. Go at your own pace. Be kind to yourself. Watch the benefits unfold. Soon that darkness behind your eyelids will become an inner sanctuary.
Sit. Close your eyes. Breathe.