Mindfulness meditation: Exploring the power of being present
When was the last time you were truly alone with your thoughts?
No distractions, judgement, or trending TikTok track running through your mind?
If it took a while to think of a single instance, you’re not alone!
With the constant stresses and distractions of daily life, finding even a minute to be mindful of your thoughts and emotions can seem like an impossible challenge.
Yet this simple practice can do wonders for your body and mind.
Don’t believe us?
Well, buckle up because you’re about to have your mind blown wide open with Basubu’s ultimate guide to mindfulness meditation.
What is mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is all about being in the moment; however cliché that might sound.
It’s a form of awareness that comes from complete focus on the present moment.
When practising mindfulness, you do not reflect on the past or forecast the future. Instead, you’re wholly and completely ‘in the now.’
Your mind is not full of overwhelming or racing thoughts, but rather fully aware of where you are and how you feel in that specific moment.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a technique used to reach a state of mindfulness.
It’s a journey within, with no beginning or end, but a continuous flow of consciousness with one goal; to achieve a balanced, calm and mentally clear state of mind.
During meditation, time ceases to exist and the only thing that matters is the present moment.
You might feel a glint of sunlight shimmer across your cheek, smell a fresh, earthy aroma float by or drift into a distant memory you thought you had tucked away from good.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Practising mindfulness meditation is so much more than sitting in a quiet room with your thoughts.
It’s a transformative wellness practice and concentration technique that is proven to calm the mind and body, reduce stress levels, and even improve the health of your heart.
Mindfulness helps us process and let go of negative emotions and vicious thought cycles that taunt our thoughts and darken our emotions.
With mindfulness meditation, we combine typical elements of meditation such as deep breathing to help us focus on physical sensations as well as our thoughts and feelings in the present moment.
What are the 7 principles of mindfulness?
Although practising mindfulness meditation doesn’t require physical effort, it can be quite a challenge mentally.
To reach a true state of mindfulness, you need to practise with intent.
Mindfulness is built on seven core principles or attitudes which are key to unlocking the benefits of the present moment.
It’s in our nature to make judgements, some of which are crucial to our survival, and others which are neither helpful nor healthy for our emotional wellbeing.
Mindfulness encourages you to become an unbiased bystander to your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
It’ll help you see the world through a crystal clear lens, without any scratches, scuffs or marks obstructing your view.
Practising mindfulness demands patience.
Accept that results won’t happen immediately and that great things take time.
Just like a ripening golden delicious apple dangling from a tree, if you allow it to fall off when it’s ready, it’ll be perfectly succulent and sweet.
3. Beginner’s mind
In life, we often let our doubts and previous experiences cloud our intuition.
Mindfulness practices encourage you to have a beginner’s mind and to see everything with a fresh perspective.
Like a child navigating the world for the first time, take every experience in with no preconceived notions or expectations.
Trusting in yourself is essential to the mindfulness meditation practice.
Accept that you are likely to make mistakes along the way and that when the journey seems impossible, you’ll have to trust in your intuition to guide you through it.
After all, if you don’t have faith in yourself, who can you trust?
The art of spontaneity is a strange paradox.
To try not to try, you’re essentially trying, right?
That said, non-striving is neither trying nor making an effort; it’s the sweet spot right in between.
To unlock this attitude, you need to purposely be present but let go of all expectations and simply allow the universe to run its course without trying to reach an end goal or result.
Learning to accept things for the way they are doesn’t mean that you have it like it or necessarily agree with it.
Rather, it’s the ability to see things for what they truly are and acknowledge how you feel in the present moment, whether that’s angry, disappointed or joyful.
7. Letting go
Letting go might insinuate little to no effort, but it requires a great deal of mental strength.
As humans, we have a habit of controlling our emotions and thoughts based on the way they make us feel.
If a memory makes you feel hopeless or heartbroken, you repress it, and the same can be said for joyful experiences that we try to hold onto forever.
Letting go encourages us to pay attention to the now and relinquish all control over our thoughts and feelings.
What are the benefits of mindfulness meditation?
If you’ve ever spent a few minutes practising quiet reflection or meditation, you’ve probably already experienced its powerful energy.
Curious about the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation, scientists began to dig, and to their surprise, they discovered not one but several significant benefits.
1. Reduces anxiety and stress
We could all do with a little less stress and anxiety, and this type of meditation might be the answer.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a therapeutic intervention that’s proven to reduce stress in people with mental illnesses as well as perfectly healthy individuals.
By practising mindfulness over an eight week period, people noticed an improvement in their mental health and even chronic pain.
2. Improves cognition
What good would mindfulness be if it didn’t improve your mind?
Through research, scientists have found that this type of meditation activates different brain regions linked to control and emotion, helping people become less emotionally reactive and improving cognitive flexibility.
Research from the American Psychology Association also suggests that practising mindfulness is equally as effective as antidepressant drugs.
3. Bolsters self-worth
By growing the part of the brain associated with personal development, mindfulness meditation saw an increase in an individual’s sense of self-worth.
Mindfulness exercises displayed a remarkable ability to reduce body negativity and enhance our intuition and positive emotions.
Lowers high blood pressure
Mindfulness meditation is also fantastic for the heart!
Studies show that mindfulness has the power to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure which could help lower the blood pressure of people at risk of heart disease.
Mindfulness meditation techniques
Sadly, there is no hard and fast way to practise mindfulness meditation.
You can start by working with a guide on a meditation retreat, or do it alone in your living room – each person’s technique and process is different, that’s the beauty of meditation!
In most cases, you will choose a spot where you feel safe and comfortable.
Once comfortable, position your body into Sukhasana (easy pose) or lie down in Savasana (corpse pose).
Start with deep breathing exercises and begin to focus on the sensations you experience.
There is no time limit for meditation practice. You simply use the time available to you.
Mindfulness meditation doesn’t require any props, tools, incense, lighting, or specific music. You just need to be able to take time to be present.
How do I practise mindfulness meditation?
To learn how to become more mindful, you immerse yourself in body and mind sensations.
One of the best ways to do this is through body scan meditation which encourages body awareness by paying attention to how you feel in the present moment.
You can initiate a body scan by asking yourself questions like: “How do I feel physically?,” “Do I have pain or discomfort anywhere in my body?,” “Which emotions am I experiencing?,” or “What do I smell, taste and hear?”
Concentrate fully on every sensation you experience.
This process allows us to acknowledge what we think and feel without being hard on ourselves.
We don’t judge. We simply witness our own experience.
What are the steps of mindfulness meditation?
If you are new to meditation, it always helps to start by working with an experienced trainer or guide.
If you’re looking for a simple way to reduce stress and reconnect, practising mindfulness meditation with these simple steps is a good place to start.
Step 1: Harness the right attitude
The most important thing to realise about any meditation practice is that it will never be perfect.
Both mindfulness and meditation are ongoing processes.
So, before you start, prepare yourself for mistakes, losing concentration or being overwhelmed by a negative thought or two.
This is normal. Be kind to yourself and keep going.
With meditation, practice doesn’t make perfect, which is fine because meditation is supposed to be imperfect in every way.
The point is to witness yourself and your process, gaining greater insight, clarity, and calmness over time.
Step 2: Find your place
Choose a spot in your home or garden, or anywhere else you feel safe and secure.
You can practise walking meditation or sitting meditation, whatever makes you feel comfortable and at ease.
Wear comfy clothes and make sure your belly is full and your body is ready to begin.
Step 3: Breathe and be
Now that you are in a comfortable position, take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth.
As you inhale, feel the air moving down your throat, through your lungs, and deep into your belly.
Repeat this process a few times and try to establish an even rhythm between inhalations and exhalations.
Encourage your mind to focus on the breathing process. This will help you pay attention to the present.
Step 4: Observe thoughts and feelings
With most forms of meditation, the goal is to observe yourself in a compassionate and non-judgmental way.
You become aware of what you are thinking and feeling, but you don’t ascribe concepts of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ to your ideas and emotions.
Closing your eyes during a mindfulness meditation session will help you focus on your ‘inner weather system’, so to speak.
There is a wonderful quote from Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön relating to this concept. She once said: “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
With that in mind, imagine your thoughts as wind, raindrops, or clouds passing through your headspace and then slowly floating up, out, and away.
You don’t have to ignore or suppress anything. Let it be and acknowledge it.
Step 5: Sit tight
It’s worth noting that negative thoughts will likely intrude and possibly overwhelm you when in this mental state.
If this happens to you, remind yourself that these thoughts and feelings are valid.
First, acknowledge the feeling. Then to disperse it, focus on the simple act of breathing; you’ll be surprised at how calm this can make you feel.
Step 6: Slow and gentle reawakening
After a session of mindfulness meditation, it’s important to give yourself some time to gently return to your physical environment.
If your eyes are closed, gently open them and adjust to the light.
Start to move your fingers and toes, and roll your shoulders a few times.
Make sure your neck is loose and not carrying any tension. If you like, you can give a little prayer of thanks. Be sure to also thank yourself for taking the time to meditate.
When you are ready, you can gently rise.
Where to practise mindfulness meditation?
Incorporating these steps into your daily mindfulness practice at home is a sure way to improve your mental and physical wellbeing, but finding the time or patience to practise mindfulness can be tough.
Yoga and meditation retreats are also ideal for those who want to improve their practice or are simply craving a nourishing mind and body recharge.
Whatever your reason is for wanting your wandering mind to run wild, we’ve got the perfect place to do it.
Breathe in, breathe out, and begin a life-changing journey with Basubu.
Your next restorative retreat is just a click away.