Mindfulness Practice 101 + A Short Meditation
Mindfulness is defined by the dictionary as: "1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
My mindfulness journey started in my late teens when I desperately needed a way to turn off my thoughts and find some calm in the first years of college. This started as a practice of running a few miles in the evening and soon I felt I needed more direction and stumbled into the San Francisco Zen Center looking for some of that peaceful magic I had only read about. I say magic because I wanted the shift to be immediate with little work or time. (ha!)
Well, like most things in life, my shift wasn't instant or without growing pains but over the last 10 years I have organized a few practices into my routine that help me stay present, honest and mindful. If you are looking let go of some of the chatter in your head and relax into the present moment these 3 tools could be super helpful.
1. Make Gratitude Part of your Daily Routine
Taking a minute to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for daily will totally shift your perspective. Sometimes I can only think of one, other days there isn't enough room in my journal but simply tuning into the positively of your life can change the entire perspective. Buddy up with a friend and send gratitude text, journal your list or share it with your partner over dinner- whatever the practice consistency is key.
2. Focus on the Breath
People who are anxious tend to breathe in their upper lungs (upper chest) with shallow, rapid breaths, instead of breathing into their lower lungs (lower chest). Learning to tune into the chest to consciously slow the pace of your breathing and fill the lungs fully is my #1 go to in times of stress and tension. As you slow your breath your whole body relaxes and your thoughts take a backseat to the task at hand~ breathing into the present.
Meditation has SO many benefits including stress reduction, improved concentration, increased happiness, slower aging and better sleep! Just as exercise maintains the body, meditation maintains the mind.
A study by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as 8 weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in numerous areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
If you don't think you can sit in meditation start by "doing nothing" each day for 10 minutes to warm up to sitting for a short, guided meditation. I have included a 9 minute mindfulness meditation if you're ready to dive in.
All the love,
Molly Murphy // Moonwater Studio