The practice of Mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective. When practicing mindfulness, one becomes aware of one’s “stream of consciousness”.
Mindfulness is also an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well-being. Large population-based research studies have indicated that the construct of mindfulness is strongly correlated with well-being and perceived health. Studies have also shown that rumination and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Mindfulness-based interventions are effective in the reduction of both rumination and worry.
To help you along, here are some tips that might be useful when practicing Mindful Breathing.
NOT TRYING TO STOP THINKING
Sometimes people think that meditation means having an empty mind, or trying to get rid of your thoughts. But that’s not it – in fact, trying to struggle or stop thoughts can just lead to more struggle. When we practice mindfulness of breathing, we are simply paying attention to our breath, and allowing our thoughts and feelings to be, just as they are.
You may feel like you have a lot going on when you practice. Some people even say how amazed they are at the busyness of their minds, or feel like there is more tension in their body than usual. But chances are there isn’t more going on – we are just becoming more aware.
NOT FEELING ‘RELAXED’
In mindfulness practices, we aren’t trying to become calm – if relaxation comes, that’s fine, but it isn’t the goal.
DEALING WITH JUDGMENTS
See if you can cultivate an attitude of there being no ‘good’ and no ‘bad’ thoughts, feelings or sensations when you practice. Just be curious about whatever you experience. Similarly, when the mind wanders, that isn’t bad – see if you can let go of criticizing your mind.
BEING KIND TO YOURSELF
Mindfulness training is like any other form of learning – it takes time and effort – so don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you’re not ‘getting it’. Even if your mind wanders away a thousand times, just keep on bringing your mind back to the breath – that is mindfulness practice.
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