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Science has proven the benefits of mindfulness meditation exercises in multiple health domains. Physically, it can reduce chronic pain, heart disease and sleep problems and lower the risk of various diseases. For mental well-being, it can ease stress, anxiety and depression. It can also spur optimistic changes in your behavior and emotional state.
Mindfulness Meditation Exercises Defined
Mindfulness meditation is when you slow down, focus on the moment and calm the mind. According to a study, each person typically has over 6,000 thoughts each day. An agitated mind can drain your mental energy, scatter your focus and ruin your productivity.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to train and tame the mind and concentrate on one thing at a time. By reining in your thoughts, you can maximize your mental energy on more meaningful things.
4 Easy Mindfulness Meditation Exercises
People use various tools to support their meditation practice. Some may use the breath, a mantra, the sound of the rain or waves crashing against the shore. These four simple meditation techniques can improve your life.
1. Breath, Sound or Mantra Meditation
Noticing the breath, a sound or a thought is a typical sitting form of meditation. Most do breathing exercises in retreat centers, but you can also do it at home.
On the other hand, sound bath meditation is when a facilitator plays sounds, such as binaural and singing bowls, to heal the body and relieve stress and anxiety.
Some also do guided mantra meditations via a pre-recorded video. The goal is the same regardless of the tool used. You hold your attention on the breath, sound or mantra for as long as possible. If you get distracted or the mind wanders, return to what you’re observing.
1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes as you set an intention.
2. Notice the body sensations. You might feel pressure or pulsating feelings in some parts.
3. Breathe in and be ready to stay present.
4. In each inhale and exhale, relax the body every time. Let go of sensations and focus on the breath, sound or mantra.
5. Observe the breath without judgment. Don’t think about it being shallow or the sound being too loud.
6. Breathe in and out for a few times. When you’re ready, you can end the meditation by opening your eyes.
Experts recommend meditating for at least 20 minutes daily to reap the benefits. These types of meditation are generally safe for beginners, but get an instructor if you want to know the proper way of doing it.
2. Body Scans
As the word implies, body scan is a mindfulness practice that involves scanning the body for sensations. Think of your brain as a mental x-ray that runs from your head to your feet. As you move through, notice the pain, pressure or tightness in some body areas.
1. Start in a lying or sitting position. Ensure there’s space for stretching the limbs.
2. Close your eyes and observe the breath as it fills in and leaves the lungs.
3. Choose a starting point for scanning. It can be your right toe, left arm or head.
4. Focus on the different sensations, like pain or tension, in one spot while breathing slowly and deeply.
5. Acknowledge any discomfort you find in the body and imagine it decreasing with each inhale and exhale.
6. Once done, move to the next spot until you scan the entire body.
7. If your thoughts drift, return the awareness to where you left off.
8. Once you’re done, allow a few seconds to bring your awareness back to your surroundings.
9. When you’re ready, open your eyes.
Body scan meditation increases your self-awareness and enhances your mental state of mind. Don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders — it’s normal for beginners. Stick to it and you’ll eventually get better at holding your focus.
3. Movement Meditation
Movement meditation is simply mindfulness in motion. It can be yoga, tai chi, qigong, dancing or stretching. These combine a low-impact exercise with meditation, perfect for those who want to integrate both benefits in one activity.
- Yoga: It involves doing and holding poses or asanas while moving with the breath.
- Tai chi: You do slow, consistent movements that resemble martial arts and transition from one pose to the next with the breath.
- Qigong: it’s similar to yoga except that poses are choreographed and based mainly on the movements of animals like tigers and cranes.
- Dancing: It can be meditative if you dance with awareness and move in rhythm with the breath.
- Stretching: It’s similar to the first three, but the movements are more unstructured. As you stretch, notice how body sensations change as you do it in opposite directions.
These mindfulness meditation exercises combine fitness with awareness, so you gain both physical and mental benefits. The best way to start any of these practices is to get an instructor or sign up for a class, whether online or in person. An expert can help you correct the body alignment as you execute the poses and prevent injury.
4. Mindful Eating
Many people these days eat while watching TV, reading a book or doing other activities. You can multitask, but avoid doing it with eating as it should be done purposely.
Mindful eating is a subdomain of the broader mindfulness philosophy that entails consuming food intentionally. As you drink and enjoy the tea experience, you engage all your senses and think about how it tastes, its color, smell and other characteristics in every slow sip.
Research has proven that eating mindfully can improve mental well-being and increase pleasure and body satisfaction. It’s easy to start mindful eating. On your next meal, take a bite with intention and you’ll see it’s more satisfying if you savor your food.
Awareness in Any Moment
If you want to be more self-aware, these four mindfulness meditation exercises can help you train your mind to work in synergy with your body. Doing these activities can lead to a deeper exploration of oneself and living more meaningfully.
Fortunately, you can integrate awareness into your daily life by being present at any moment. Be it working out, walking in the streets, journaling, going for a nature walk or tending to your garden — any activity you do purposely is a mindfulness practice to increase the quality of your life.
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