Improve Mental Health Through Mindfulness Meditation; Tips For Beginners
Updated: Feb 6, 2022
“Train the Mind and Body Will Follow”
How often have you rushed out the door in the morning without given any thoughts to how you’d like your day to go? Before you know it, something or someone has rubbed you the wrong way, and now you’ve reacted automatically with frustration, impatience, or rage—in other words, you’ve found yourself acting in a way you never intended.
Pausing for a brief moment to practice mindfulness/meditation for just a few minutes at different times during the day can help improve your day.
For thousands of years people all over the globe have practiced meditation, often as part of a spiritual practice. But here recently, mindfulness mediations has become a popular way to help people manage their stress, anxiety and improve their overall well-being — and well-documented research shows it’s effectiveness.
What is meditation?
Meditation can be defined in many ways. But a simple way to think of it is training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions.
The attention aspect of meditation is about tuning into your attention to focus on what's happening in the present moment. It typically involves directing your awareness to your breath, your thoughts, the physical sensations in your body and the feelings you are experiencing. The acceptance piece involves observing those feelings and sensations without judgment. Instead of responding or reacting to those thoughts or feelings, you aim to note them and let them go.
What is mindfulness ?
The word mindfulness may be used to describe a psychological trait, a practice of cultivating mindfulness a mode or state of awareness, or a psychological process (Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2005). One of the most commonly cited definitions of mindfulness is the awareness that arises through “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4).
Research on Chronic stress has been well-documented to impair the body's immune system and make many other health problems worse. By lowering the stress response, through mindfulness/meditation may have long-lasting benefits throughout the body.
While meditation isn’t a cure-all, it can certainly provide some much-needed space in your life. Sometimes, that’s all we need to make better choices for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
How to Meditate
Meditation is something everyone can do, here’s how.
Meditation is simpler than most people think. Read these steps, make sure you’re somewhere where you can relax into this process, set a timer, and give it a shot:
1. Take a seat. Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
2. Set a time limit If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
3. Notice your body You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
4.Feel your breath Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
5. Notice when your mind has wandered Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
6. Be kind to your wandering mind Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
7. Close with kindness When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
8. That’s it! That’s the practice. You focus your attention, your mind wanders, you bring it back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible (as many times as you need to).
How to Practice Mindfulness upon awakening:
This practice is best done first thing in the morning, before checking phones or email.
1. On waking, sit in your bed or a chair in a relaxed posture. Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Make sure your spine is straight, but not rigid.
2. Take three long, deep, nourishing breaths—breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then let your breath settle into its own rhythm, as you simply follow it in and out, noticing the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe.
3. Ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?” Use these prompts to help answer that question, as you think about the people and activities you will face. Ask yourself:
How might I show up today to have the best impact?
What quality of mind do I want to strengthen and develop?
What do I need to take better care of myself?
During difficult moments, how might I be more compassionate to others and myself?
How might I feel more connected and fulfilled?
4. Set your intention for the day. For example, “Today, I will be kind to myself; be patient with others; give generously; stay grounded; persevere; have fun; eat well,” or anything else you feel is important.
5. Throughout the day, check in with yourself. Pause, take a breath, and revisit your intention. Notice, as you become more and more conscious of your intentions for each day, how the quality of your communications, relationships, and mood shifts.
A few Apps to Practice Mindfulness Mediation:
Thank you for taking time to read this. Greatly appreciate!
The Meeting of Meditative Disciplines and Western Psychology: A Mutually Enriching Dialogue Walsh, et. al., American Psychologist 2006
Mindfulness-Based Therapy: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Khoury, B., et. al. Clinical Psychology Review, 2013
Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Psychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Goldberg, S.B., et. al. Clinical Psychology Review, 2018
Mindfulness Interventions Creswell, J.D., Annual Review of Psychology, 2017
Mindfulness Training and Physical Health: Mechanisms and Outcomes Creswell, J.D., et. al., Psychosomatic Medicine,2019
Mindfulness and Cognitive–Behavioral Interventions for Chronic Pain: Differential Effects on Daily Pain Reactivity and Stress Reactivity Davis, M.C., et. al., Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2015
Mindfulness Meditation and The Immune System: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials Black, D.S., et. al. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2016
Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial Barrett, B., et. al., Annals of Family Medicine, 2012
The Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation Tan, Y.-Y., et. al., Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2015
How Do Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Improve Mental Health and Wellbeing? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Mediation Studies Gu, J., et. al. Clinical Psychology Review, 2015
Effectiveness of Online Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Improving Mental Health: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials Spijkerman, M.P.J., et. al., Clinical Psychology Review, 2016