Mindfulness is a tool that can be used for a few things. For starters, it can be used as a great form of meditation that gives us a break from all the chatter and noise of our daily lives. At the same time, it can also be used as a great way to become more in-tune with our own thoughts and feelings. And finally, it can be useful for addressing flaws in our thinking and correcting them with techniques such as CBT.
If you’re interested in giving this a go though, then it might seem a little daunting. The prospect of mindfulness is one that many people find off-putting, as meditation is very often thought to be necessary linked with mysticism or with religion. Likewise, many people quickly become frustrated when they don’t see immediate results.
Read on then and we’ll look at how to start your first mindfulness session with the best chances of success.
Step 1. Breathe
The first step is simply to breathe. Breathing deeply in and out through the nose will help you to reduce stress levels by circulating more oxygen around your body and sending signals to your brain that you are in the ‘rest and digest state’. Cortisol decreases and brain activity slows.
Step 2. Concentrate on Your Senses
The next thing to do is to concentrate on your senses. This is a good way to start bringing the attention inward, so just listen out for any sounds that you normally miss, notice what temperature you are and think about the smells you can detect. Don’t ‘look’ for sounds, just let them come to you. You’ll likely find there is much more in your soundscape than you initially realized.
Step 3. Use Body Scan Meditation
The next step is to turn your awareness in even more and use something called ‘body scan’ meditation. This means that you’re now concentrating on your own body and in particular, how it feels. Start from your head and face and notice the muscles that are contracted. Move down through your neck, shoulders, arms and all the way to your toes.
Finally, return your attention to your chest and how it rises and falls as you breathe. Now you’re going to count your breaths for a while to allow the thoughts to become still.
Step 4. Let Your Mind do What it Wants
Finally, you’re going to allow your mind to do whatever it wants. That means allowing it to wander, allowing it to sit still: whatever. The point is that you are going to remain detached from the flow of thoughts and while you might notice them, you’re not going to get ‘caught up’ in them. When you notice yourself getting lost, simply bring yourself calmly back to the centre.
Don’t apply any pressure on yourself during this process. Don’t expect immediate results and don’t worry if you need to stop to itch. The whole point is to just allow yourself a gentle break and the more you push for results, the less likely they are to come.