Most of us have been spending more time at home than ever before the past year. We work from home, workout at home, eat, sleep and relax at home. The fact that we are now doing all of these activities in the same space can blur the lines between work and private life, between focused productive time and relaxing time. We need to make sure we take time for ourselves in our hectic days to ensure that we do not burn out. This is why it is so important to learn the basics of meditation and mindfulness. "Are they not the same thing?" you might be thinking. Well.. Not exactly. Let us explain.
In this blog we will delve in to the concepts of meditation and mindfulness and give you some easy tips to be able to practice them at home and in your day to day life.
Meditation is most often described as formal, seated meditation practice. The whole idea behind meditation is that it is an intentional practice. You increase relaxation, calmness, concentration and awareness through focusing on a mantra, your breath or a sound. Meditation will normally start with deep breathing with your eyes closed. Through your deep breathing, you bring all of your awareness to your breath and are guided to an anchor, a single point of focus. A specific amount of time is normally set aside for meditation, this could be anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more.
There are many different types of meditation, here are 5 popular types:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Progressive relaxation
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Visualization meditation
The reason so many people are turning to meditation is that has so many incredible benefits, both mentally and physically. These benefits include: lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and improving sleep.
Try this simple meditation for beginners at home:
- Sit or lie comfortably on a mat, pillow or chair.
- Close your eyes and look down with your eyes closed.
- Breathe in and out naturally.
- Focus your attention on your breath, following each inhale as it enters your body, and each exhale as it leaves your body. Notice which parts of your body move with each inhale and exhale. Observe your chest, shoulders, and belly.
- Keep your focus on the breath without forcing it. Your mind will wander when you first start out, this is totally normal. When you notice your mind start to wander, return your focus to your breath and bring yourself back to center.
To start with, practice this meditation for two to three minutes, and then slowly build up to 10 minutes or longer every day.
As you have read earlier, mindfulness can actually be a form of meditation. Whereas meditation is a very intentional practice, mindfulness is simply paying attention and being present in whatever you are doing in that moment. This can mean being mindful when walking outside, while eating, while having a conversation with a loved one or when simply relaxing. When you are mindful, you are actively engaged with all of your senses in whatever it is that you are doing. It is a practice where you notice what is going on around you, as well as within you.
Mindfulness can be practiced either informally (at any time or place) or formally (during seated meditation). The big difference between meditation and mindfulness is that meditation is normally practiced for a specific amount of time, whereas mindfulness can be practiced in any situation at any time.
It can be very challenging for the human mind to stay in the present moment. A Harvard study found that people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.
How often do you find yourself in conversation with someone where instead of actually being engaged and listening to what the other person is saying, you are either thinking ahead and already formulating your reply, or thinking about your grocery list or to do list for the rest of the day? Unfortunately, this jumping around from thought to thought has become the norm as our lives have become busier and our attention spans shorter. Practicing mindfulness in your day to day activities and making it a habit is a great way to decrease stress, boost your working memory and focus, in addition to increasing your relationship satisfaction.
Try this simple 5 senses mindfulness practice at home:
- Notice 5 things that you can see. Look around you and become aware of your environment. Try to pick out something that you don’t usually notice.
- Notice 4 things you can feel. Bring attention to the things that you’re currently feeling, such as the texture of your clothing or the smooth surface of the table you’re resting your hands on.
- Notice 3 things that you can hear. Listen for and notice things in the background that you don’t normally notice. It could be the birds chirping outside or an appliance humming in the next room.
- Notice 2 things you can smell. Bring attention to scents that you usually filter out, either pleasant or unpleasant. Catch a whiff of the pine trees outside or food cooking in the kitchen.
- Notice 1 thing you can taste. Take a sip of a drink, chew gum, or notice the current taste in your mouth.
How do you plan to incorporate mindfulness and / or meditation into your daily life? Let us know in the comments below!