Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. Just as you eat food and take yoga classes to nourish your body, you need to nourish your mind in order to keep it healthy and well. If we think of mindfulness like food for the mind, the concept becomes a lot easier to grasp. Let’s start by talking about what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness is a state of being when your body and mind are in the same place at the same time. That means bringing attention to what you are doing and where you are, without worrying about the future or the past.
Think of it like you’re sitting at your desk and eating a granola bar and all of a sudden you’re aware that you’re sitting at your desk and eating a granola bar. You’re not worried about what you’re going to eat for dinner or thinking about how you embarrassed yourself earlier this morning. You’re just in that moment, as it happens.
Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years with roots in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. However, mindfulness became increasingly popular in the West primarily because of Jon Kabat-Zinn who created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program in the 1970s.
In the early 2000s, there was an explosion of research in mindfulness interventions which could explain why mindfulness has become so popular today. In a society where busyness and burnout are the norm, mindfulness offers an alternate experience of living that has been shown to provide enormous benefits.
Facts that must be known about mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic.
It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
- Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do.
We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbours, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in.
- You don’t need to change.
Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
- Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon.
- Anyone can do it.
Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
- It’s a way of living.
Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
- It’s evidence-based.
We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
- It sparks innovation.
As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
How To Sit For Meditation:
The seven-point meditation posture is an approach to sitting while meditating. There are seven guidelines that you can use to help correctly position your body. Of course, you’re welcome to adjust anything that doesn’t work for you. Approach the practice the same way that you approach your posture. Your body is actively engaged, yet there is a softness to it.
Depending on how flexible your hips are, you can sit in quarter, half, or full lotus position. You can also sit cross-legged with your hips elevated higher than your heels by sitting on a meditation cushion, towel, pillow, or chair. You can use a cushion or meditation bench to get support in most positions. It’s important to choose a pose that’s comfortable so you can focus on your meditation.
No matter how you sit, your spine should be as straight as possible. If you tend to slouch forward or sway slightly backward, now is the time to gently remind yourself to come back into the correct posture.
Continue to root down through your body with each exhale. Lift your body up and lengthen your spine with each inhale. Feel the line of energy that goes from the base of your spine out through the crown of your head. Keeping your spine straight will help you to stay alert.
You can rest your hands on your thighs with your palms facing down. Keeping your hands placed down is said to be more grounding and help relax your body’s energy flow.
You can also stack your hands in your lap with your palms facing up. To do this, place your right hand on top of your left hand with your thumbs gently touching. This hand position is said to generate more heat and energy.
Keep your shoulders relaxed and comfortable as you draw them slightly back and down. This helps keep your heart centre open and your back strong.
During your practice, check-in with your posture from time to time. Ensure that your spine is straight and draw the tops of your shoulders down and away from your ears. Pay attention to the height of your shoulders and notice if one feels higher than the other so that you can adjust as needed.
Keep your chin tucked in slightly while maintaining length in the back of your neck. Correctly positioning your chin helps you to maintain your posture. Keep your face relaxed. You may find that turning the corners of your face up slightly helps to release any tension in the face.
Try to release any tension you’re holding in your jaw. It may be helpful to keep your jaw slightly open as you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. This automatically relaxes the jaw, allows for clear breathing, and slows down the swallowing process.
You can also do a few exaggerated yawns before you meditate to stretch your jaw and release tension.
Most people find it easier to meditate with closed eyes. Avoid squeezing your eyes shut. Softly closing them will help you keep your face, eyes, and eyelids relaxed.
You can also meditate with open eyes. Maintain an unfocused gaze on the floor a few feet ahead of you. Keep your face relaxed and avoid squinting.
Decide which way you’ll meditate before you begin, so you’re not switching back and forth between open and closed eyes. This can be disorienting and disrupt the flow of your practice.