Toolkit for Mindfulness
- Just observe what’s happening in your mind. Stare at any object. Focus on it. Let your thoughts flow, but remain focused on the object. After you feel full inside, switch to another object.
- Conscious breathing without observing thoughts. Take deep, slow breaths and focus on the air moving in and out of your body. Conscious breathing has been shown to help fight depression. Conscious breathing can also reduce pain, especially chronic pain.
- Conscious eating. When was the last time you paid attention to the taste, structure, and smell of your meal? Try it! Slower- paced eating reduces hunger and the risk of diabetes.
- Body Scan. Try focusing on one area of our body at a time. Stop whenever you find an area that is unusually tight and focus on it until it relaxes or feels normal. Visualise the area and imagine how it functions.
- Focus on stretching, walking, running, or any other physical activity. Try to focus on the way your body is moving, nothing else. Think about your muscles. How are they stretching? Is there any tension? Are they “burning”? Are they pressing against other areas of the body? If you are walking, focus on how your feet feel.
- Focus on your surroundings. Anything around you. What do you smell? What sounds do you hear?
This kind of meditation is about focusing on your thoughts, not your surroundings. Try to observe thoughts from the outside. Sounds strange? Just follow these steps:
- Watch your breathing.
- Watch your thoughts.
- Choose one thought.
- Focus on it.
- Try to examine this thought as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Everything that emerges in your mind, about this thought, must be examined.
- After observing it, just let it go.
- Switch to another thought.
Shifting from Focus to Awareness
Watch your stream of consciousness dispassionately, then catch something from the stream and deliberately focus on it.
Here are some tips to make all types of meditation more effective:
- Take a seat. Sit on a solid and comfortable surface
- Sit up straight but without tension
- Put your arms parallel to your legs
- Drop your chin a little and look forward
- Be present and focus on your own mind
And remember the most important rule: do not judge anything or anybody, including yourself
How long should I meditate for, and how often?
It depends on you and how you feel.
On average, people who are new to mindfulness meditation, spend around 23 minutes practicing every day. And, of course there are no limits. Just experiment with doing more or less and see how you feel. Studies show that the effects of meditation are already noticeable after 20 minutes of practice. That’s when the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain believed to relieve anxiety, is activated. You can meditate for as long as you want, but definitely don’t force yourself. If you’re constantly looking at the clock to check if you’ve done our daily minimum, you’re likely to miss out on the benefits.
When to meditate?
Mornings are easier because your mind isn’t occupied with all kinds of thoughts yet. After work, meditation will help you calm down and create a psychological barrier between work and personal life. Psychologists don’t recommend meditating before going to bed at night. The aim of mindfulness meditation is not relaxation, but being fully aware and present. If you have no other time to meditate except late evening, it’s best to do so at least an hour before going to bed. And remember: use mindfulness whenever you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed.
I use the app Calm to meditate. There are many other apps like Headspace, Buddhify etc., and many online and offline coaching for the same.
April 3, 2022