The modern world can often be a harried, stressful place, leaving us feeling burnt out and frazzled.
But life doesn’t have to be that way.
There are two very simple practices that can help you relax, stay present and enjoy life more. You’ve likely heard of meditation and mindfulness, but you may not know what they’re really about or how to get started with them in your own life.
Here’s how to do just that and why you should do it.
The Benefits of Getting Zen
Mindfulness may have its roots in ancient Buddhism, but the practice is incredibly applicable to the modern world. At its most basic, mindfulness is a way of paying attention. It means being aware moment-to-moment of your own experience in the world.
Practicing mindfulness can help us stay present in our often too-busy lives.
Studies have shown that mindfulness can promote an individual’s well-being and perceived health in many ways. It’s used in stress-reduction programs in schools, hospitals, sports, prisons and other environments. Mindfulness can be effective at curbing worrying, which can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Meditation goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness. The roots of meditation practice are ancient, but as with mindfulness, it’s so applicable to our modern lives. Mindfulness is often cultivated through the practice of meditation, which aims to clear the mind and recognize thoughts as being just that without following them or letting them control us.
Meditation may alleviate many health concerns, like high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Meditation is often used to increase relaxation and calmness, cope with illness and boost overall well-being and health.
How to Get Started
If you live in a large city, you’re likely not too far away from a meditation and mindfulness class. They can be great ways to take a deep dive into the practices and have someone there to guide you as you get started.
But taking a class isn’t at all necessary to practice meditation and mindfulness. All you need is the willingness to try… and some patience.
Studies have shown that mindfulness can promote an individual’s well-being and perceived health in many ways.
To reap the maximum benefits of meditation, it’s best to do it for at least 10 minutes per day.
Like exercise or sleep, you can’t cram it all into one session to get the most out of it. There are many apps that can help with the timing aspect and providing a guided mediation or one with music. Or you can just set a timer and embrace the silence.
To mediate, find a comfortable position (not too comfortable though, you don’t want to fall asleep!) and try doing it at the same time every day. That will help your body and mind get into the ritual more easily. Then start mediating! It’s as simple as closing your eyes, taking a few calming breaths and sitting still for 10 minutes while not allowing your thoughts to dominate your mind.
Some people find it helpful to repeat a mantra while meditating to stay focused. But don’t worry if your mind strays. Just bring it back to your breath and be kind to yourself. That’s what meditation is all about.
To start practicing mindfulness, all you need to do is stay aware and present in your daily life. Try really focusing the next time you’re having a conversation over dinner (no phones allowed!). Or take a walk on your lunch break with no music to really notice what’s going on around you: the birds chirping, the breeze blowing through the leaves, the warm sun on your skin.
Mindfulness is a lot like meditating while being active in your daily life. The two practices go hand-in-hand and by embracing both, you’ll be on your way to even greater well-being.
P.S. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve likely been introduced to the concepts of mindfulness and mediation. Check out our guide to understanding the language of yoga before your next class!
Featured Image: Flickr