Meditation, Mental health, Mindfulness

How do I start to practice #mindfulness and #meditation?

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

So what is meditation?

In short, it works by focusing the mind on a thought, item or activity. Through concentration, a mentally clear and emotionally calm state can be reached. If you have a chronic health condition like fibromyalgia it’s worth trying.

I found meditation to really help and would suggest having a look at Insight Timer and download the app. You can access free a range of guided and unguided meditations on different themes for beginners to more advanced.

Courses, live meditation sessions, music, sleep and talks are also accessible but some are only available for payment. 

One of the best beginners courses to try is ‘Learn how to meditate in seven days’ by Sarah Blondin

For Fibromyalgia sufferers try ‘Methods for living with pain and illness’ by Vidyamala Burch

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is another form of meditation which is popular at the moment.  It is about focusing the mind in the present, rather than letting the mind jump from random thought to thought.  You may find this approach easier to work with.  The NHS website has some more information about this technique.

Why practice mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • lower stress levels
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • reduce anxiety
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
  • improve decision making

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind🐒

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.

If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.