Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
It is the process of bringing your attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment without judging or reacting to them, but just by watching and being conscious.
It is the exercise of detaching from your problems and worries and focusing, even if for a few minutes, on yourself: your sensations, feelings, and ultimately your breath.
It is a meditation technique capable of relieving your stress and worries, while providing clarity and serenity. And when you attain that, you will be able to much more easily overcome your obstacles and find smart solutions to your problems – you might even realize that they are not even problems anymore. Because this technique helps to put things into perspective and acknowledge the things that really matter.
It is not as complex as it may sound. To reach that state of calmness and serenity, you don’t have to live as a monk or meditate for hours. All you need is 5 minutes from your day and your intention and commitment. You will see that this exercise of focusing on how you feel and focusing on your breath will help you improve your focus on all your other tasks and things will almost magically become easier and lighter!
It might be hard in the beginning and your mind will try to take you from that place. But when you manage to detach your mind from your problems and focus on the experience of just BEING in the present moment, even if for a few seconds, you will experience a tremendous feeling of relaxation and contentment. You will experience true JOY.
This practice is very simple and anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere. Yet, it is very powerful and can change your life.
I’ve been doing it for about two years and the results are (literally) mind-blowing. I realize almost instantly how much more focused and relaxed I get right after I finish the practice. I also see how I can relativize my problems and find solutions much more easily. Ultimately, it brings me a feeling of incomparable joy and contentment that I carry throughout the entire day. It really gives me pleasure and plenitude.
At this stage, I usually do it for 15 minutes every day. Some days I am really restless and it takes me a while to calm down. (I believe in such days this practice is even more important and I can see a real change manifesting after I finish it). Other days, I just lose track of time and feel immense pleasure in my practice of doing nothing – I just deeply enjoy nothingness!
Start sitting down in a comfortable position, either cross-legged or on a chair, with your back straight, chest open and shoulders relaxed.
Gently close your eyes.
Breathe deeply 3 times.
Start paying attention to the sounds that surround you. What can you notice? Cars, people talking, birds, music, water flowing…? Identify the sounds but don’t get attached to any of them. If you realize that your mind started winding around any of the sounds, bring it back to the present moment and to the experience of listening without judging.
Do this exercise for at least 1 minute.
Slowly withdrawal your attention from the sounds surrounding you and bring it to your body. How do you feel in this moment? Pay attention to your muscles, your posture, to the gentle movements that your body does when you breathe… Check if you feel any pain or discomfort. Once again, label it but don’t get attached to it.
Do this for at least 1 minute.
Then bring your attention to how you feel in that moment and in that day. Do you feel stressed, relaxed, tired, refreshed, annoyed, happy…? Here it’s very important to label your feelings and emotions without getting trapped in your thoughts. Your mind will create thoughts about it. But you can just watch them.
Also do this for at least 1 minute.
Then bring your focus to your breath. Notice how it comes and goes out of your nostrils. (Notice the flow of fresh oxygen coming into your body and nourishing every one of your cells and the flow of warm breath going out of your body carrying all that you don’t need anymore). If a thought comes and distracts you from your breath, passively notice that your mind has wandered, but in an accepting, non-judgmental way and return to focusing on breathing.
Stay in this place of concentration and awareness for at least 3 minutes.
Before you finish your practice, bring into your mind how you’d like to feel by the end of the day. What would you like to have accomplished?
With that in mind, bring your attention back to your body, to the sounds around you and finally open your eyes.
As you practice regularly, it will become easier to keep the attention focused on breathing. Eventually this awareness of the breath can be extended into awareness of thoughts, feelings and actions.
This is just one practice I wanted to share with you, because it helps me so much. Tell me about your own experiences and practices and let’s learn from each other!