Mindfulness Meditation- 8 Useful Tips for Beginners

mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation can be very challenging for any beginner. However, practicing mindfulness meditation is one of the most powerful habits you will ever form. In fact, I tell people that mindfulness is my super power.That’s because mindful living has helped me transform every aspect of life. Also, mindfulness practice has bought me a range of other benefits including…

  • improved concentration and focus
  • increased peace and calm
  • less feelings of worry or fear about the future
  • increased creativity
  • increased patience
  • reduced stress
  • improved well-being
  • improved sleep quality

That’s why I want  to share tips that will help you move beyond being a mindfulness beginner. When we make mindfulness practice part of our life, we can begin to create positive lasting change.

mindfulness meditation -self mastery

Self-Mastery and Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is about self mastery and in particular learning how to use our mind effectively. The great Chinese sage Lao Tzu really understood the power of mindfulness meditation when he wrote that mastering yourself is true power.

‘Mastering others is strength, Mastering yourself is true power’… Lao Tzu

Most people live without even considering the workings of their mind and how it shapes every aspect of where we are right now. So, good or bad, our mind creates thoughts and emotions about everything we experience. In turn, these shape our beliefs and behaviors.  It’s so easy to live on auto pilot and wonder why we are not getting the life we really want.

Simply put, mindfulness meditation shines the light of awareness on the often wild workings of our mind. With awareness. we can become the observer of the good, the bad and the ugly. With practice and patience, mindful awareness allows us to see the mental constructs we create. Over time, we can observe that many of these mental constructs serve us well, but unfortunately many do not. The great news is that we have control over our minds. Armed with this self-awareness, we can then reshape and transform limiting mental constructs to those that serve us well.

mindfulness meditation -awareness

How Are You Feeling?

When I started mindfulness meditation, I had a lot of resistance from my mind and body from starting with breath watching meditation. For many weeks, my formal practice consisted of taking time out to check in with my body and mind.

As human beings, it’s important to accept that our minds and bodies are extremely complex and full of strong emotions and sensation. So, I found the first step to success with mindfulness practice was to accept my human condition.

Lessons Learned

One of the most important lessons I learned is that mindfulness practice is about bringing self awareness to what’s happening in our life.It’s important to let go of trying control everything and to simply observe what comes up. By turning our attention inside we learn to become the observer of feelings, emotions and thoughts. The act of checking in allows us to become the non-judgemental observer of our mind and body.

As you breath in, simply check-in with your body and notice any sensations or areas of tension. As your exhale, imagine these sensations reducing in intensity. Also, observe what comes up in your mind as your breath in. Then, as you exhale and imagine these thoughts reducing in intensity. Just taking time our to ‘check-in” with your mind and body can help to dial down the intensity of thoughts, feelings and emotions that come up.

As well as a check in like this, I also used to complete a full body scan to reduce areas of tension in my body. Simply check-in, then slowly move your awareness around each part of your body and become aware of sensations without judging them. On each out breath, feel the sensations reduce in intensity.

As a beginner, I found that completing a full ‘check-in’ of the mind and body is a great way of starting formal meditation practice.

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The Nike Principal of Mindfulness Meditation

Formal mindfulness practice is not about achieving or striving to change anything. At our core, we already have a powerful natural state of grounded being.

Mindfulness is about letting go of all the mental stress and turmoil that robs us of our natural grounded state of peak performance. So, don’t worry about doing it right or wrong. Learn to trust that you are letting go of stress and turmoil to experience what’s happening right now.

The key to success with formal meditation is to make it a habit and part of our regular life routine. As mindfulness practice becomes habitual, it’s possible to learn to optimize your practice by adding new techniques. However, as a beginners, it’s best to stay with simple breath watching meditation and give yourself the gift of regular practice.

Commitment to Mindfulness Meditation

Practicing meditation is the formal foundation of mindfulness practice and mindful living. Like the foundation of any structure,  new habits need to be built on a strong foundation.  I regularly get asked why I don’t take long holidays every year like most people. My simple reply is that I take my mind and body on a holiday everyday when I meditate.

With regular formal mediation, my mind and body are kept grounded and in peak condition. This allows me to work effectively without stress in world dominated by stress related illness.

So, mindfulness meditation is like committing to a regular exercise regime. The only difference is that mindfulness practice is like your gym session for your mind.  Mastering your mind with regular mindfulness practice gives you total control over your life and how you decide to live it.

mindfulness meditation

Wandering happens

Frustration is one of the main reasons people stop meditation practice. Most often, the frustration for the beginner comes from that fact that the mind wonders off. The key hear is to accept that our mind will wander and this happens to most beginners. When you observe this happening, don’t get frustrated, simply guide your mind back to your single point of focus.

If frustration creeps in, simply smile and acknowledge your mind has wondered again and that’s quite normal. As a beginner, it’s important to be patient. Treat your wondering mind like a very small child. When it wanders off, just smile and gently shift your focus. Patience and acceptance are two key attitudes of successful mindfulness practice.

So please, learn to be gentle with yourself as being patient and non-judgemental are essential attitudes for successful formal mindfulness practice.

Don’t count sheep

There are many types of formal meditation. The simplest form of mindfulness practice is breath watching meditation which is a great way to start formal mindfulness meditation. Our minds are used to striving and controlling so will react when you first meditate. Every breath we take happens right now in the present moment, which is why it is a great starting point for mindfulness.

With patience, we can shift our mind away from rumination, wandering and controlling onto experiencing what is happening now by observing our breath.

Remember, as a beginner your mind will wander. There is no need for frustration or striving to get something right. Simply guide your mind back to observing your breathing and the feelings and sensation that arise. With regular practice, our ability to focus without effort becomes stronger and stronger.

mindfulness meditation

Keep it short

As a beginner, only practice for short periods. Think of your mindfulness practice like starting at the gym. Start off slow to give yourself time to build your levels of fitness and endurance. So, think of mindfulness practice as building your mental strength and stamina. With time and practice, we are able to sit for longer periods as the observer of thoughts, feelings and emotions.

As a beginner, try meditating for only a few minutes, and slowly increase your session length over time.

Everything is Just Fine

As a beginner, I was often startled that very strong feelings and emotions arose as I tried to meditate. Learning to accept whatever comes up during meditation is one of the vital attitudes for success.

That is where mindfulness meditation is different to other meditation techniques. If we become distracted by sensations in the body, just observe them until they pass. Then, gently shift your attention back to watching and feeling the sensation of your breath. Also, as thoughts arise simply allow them to pass without judgement and gently return to observing your breath.

Mindfulness meditation is not about striving to achieve anything, it’s much more about becoming the neutral observer of our mind and body. So, no matter what sensations or emotions arise, simply sit and observe them until they pass.

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Making Mindfulness Meditation a Transformative Habit

I found formal meditation practice very daunting as a beginner. In fact, I experienced many times when it seemed too hard and I just wanted to give up.  Luckily, I was able to overcome these challenges in several ways.

Some days, our busy lives just take over and we have to just hang on for the ride. When I became overwhelmed and could not cope with formal seated meditation, I shortened my practice to a simple check-in or body scan.

The simple act of becoming the neutral observer of mind and body sensations allows our  turmoil to be dissolved within a few minutes. This is a very powerful way of balancing our stress response with our natural relaxation response.

Informal Mindfulness Practice

When I feel my focus slipping during the day I take a short break and complete a few mindfulness exercises. These are great to use when you don’t have time or space for formal meditation.

Also, you can even do them while other people are around and they won’t even know that you are practicing mindfulness. One of the easiest to remember is a simple technique called STOP, which you can do anywhere any time.

S –  Stop what you a doing currently when you notice signs of stress.

T –  Take a few deep breaths and shift your awareness to your breathing for a short period

O –  Observe what you are experiencing right now. Notice feelings, sensations, emotions and thoughts that are present. By simply observing and even naming the cause of your stress can help to diffuse it.

P –  Proceed with something that will help you move beyond the current thoughts and emotions that triggered your stress.  This can be as simple as moving your body, making a cup tea or doing a few stretches. Taking time out breaks the cycle of rumination, circular thinking or negative self-talk that may have created our stress.

mindfulness meditation -self mastery

Moving Forward

Mindfulness meditation is not always easy or peaceful. However, building a life full of mindfulness practice can be transformative and therefore one of the best habits you could ever form. For me, the key to creating a habit of mindfulness practice lies in combining  both formal meditation practice with informal mindfulness practice.

There are many activities and exercises that can help you live more mindfully and will enrich your formal mindfulness meditation practice.

Here are some related posts and resources you may find useful…

3 Simple Mindfulness Exercises.

How to Practice Mindfulness for Health

Understanding Mindfulness in Plain English

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script

Make Meditation Easy.com

 

 

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