How To Meditate: A Beginner's Guide To Mindfulness Meditation

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girl learning how to meditate
Self

If you haven't learned how to meditate yet, it's time. Especially if you've been feeling like you're living in a time of extremes and rapid changes.

The truth is that you may feel overwhelmed and helpless before the demands of the modern world.

When faced with uncertainty, fear, and anxiety can become a constant in our lives.

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For this reason, today more than ever, it's important to cultivate qualities that help us navigate the daily challenges and use mental resources that allow us to develop resilience and courage.

Mindfulness meditation can be the practice you're looking for.

Answer the following questions:

  • Do you feel agitated, stressed, and anxious?
  • Do you tend to be irritable?
  • Do you lose concentration more easily, start jumping from task to task, and feel as if you had not completed the most important assignments at the end of the day?
  • Do you struggle to have a clear mind to make decisions?
  • Are you experiencing more fear about the future and regret about the past?
  • Do you have patterns of rumination so worried about failure that you can’t sleep well at night?
  • Do you feel your emotions, thoughts, people, or events rule your life?

If you said "yes" to any of these experiences, it indicates that it might be time for you to start a mindfulness meditation practice.

What is mindfulness?

In simple terms, mindfulness can be defined as focused attention or full awareness to the present moment.

The practice of mindfulness is not really new.

You may be surprised to know that this ancient tradition has been used in the Eastern world for thousands of years to reduce the suffering caused by our limited perceptions and views.

In the Western world, mindfulness has been used in clinical settings since the 1970s due to its great therapeutic benefits.

The positive clinical effects come from the openness and acceptance to situations, releasing the burden of our expectations.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) method says:

"Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now."

Mindfulness has gone from individual practice to clinical scenarios and large international corporations.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Nike, Sony, Accenture, and many others, are integrating this practice in their organizations to promote creativity. It teaches their employees to reduce stress, anxiety, and an attention deficit that's increasingly more common.

After all, we live in a world full of distractions by being connected all the time to electronic devices.

There's a simple way to start introducing mindfulness in your daily life.

You'll start noticing its remarkable benefits. It only takes a few minutes.

Try to commit to a daily practice of 10 to 15 minutes. You can add more time as you advance, according to your needs.

Choose a place where you won’t be interrupted. And turn off any device that could alter your practice.

This is a valuable and precious time for you!

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To get started on learning how to meditate, here are the 7 steps you need to take.

1. Set your intention.

Why do you want to meditate? This cannot become another "should" in your to-do list, but a genuine desire to improve your life, be less reactive, and expand your health and wellness.

2. Sit comfortably in an upright position.

Let your hands rest on your knees or lap.

3. Close your eyes.

Or if you prefer, leave them half-open with a soft gaze.

4. Take three deep breaths. 

Let go and relax with each exhale. Consciously release any tension in the body.

5. Focus your attention on the breath.

Notice how the air enters and leaves the nostrils or the rise and fall of the chest. The breath is a kind of home base or anchor to quiet the mind.

6. Pause your thoughts.

Anytime you notice you’re lost in thoughts (memories, images, plans, stories, or physical sensations), simply pause, recognize you are thinking, and go back to the breath.

You're training your mind to settle, come back, and be here. There's no need to judge yourself for having thoughts — that’s what the mind does!

7. Thank yourself.

When you're ready to finish, thank yourself for taking the time to have this rewarding experience.

As mindfulness helps you to be fully present and alive, you can extend the practice to your daily activities.

During the day, pause, take a couple of breaths, and be conscious of what you're doing. If you're drinking coffee (or your favorite beverage), notice the cup, your hand — notice the textures, the colors, the smells, the sounds.

Involve all your senses. Don’t simply drink it, but enjoy it. You're alive!

Although mindfulness is not a panacea, it’s worth to give it a try to see how it can work for you and improve your life.

RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Practice Mindfulness Every Day (No Matter How Busy Your Schedule May Be)

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Magloire Aguirre is a certified professional coach (ACC), transformational educator and speaker with an M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology.

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