How to Practice Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation is about learning to stay in the present moment without judgment. Through meditation, we become kinder and more patient with ourselves and others. 

Medical studies have shown practicing meditation regularly reduces stress and improves focus. As a result, we can make better decisions, and our relationships improve.

But like any skill, meditation takes practice. So don’t worry if your mind starts to wander immediately. Over time, you’ll learn to observe your thoughts without reacting to them.

How to Start Meditating

Meditation doesn’t require any special equipment. Any quiet space free of clutter and distractions where you can sit quietly for a few minutes is perfect.

Decide how long you will meditate and use a kitchen timer or cell phone alarm. You can start with just five or ten minutes daily and increase it over time. Many people meditate in the morning when they wake up or at night before going to bed. Remember, no matter how busy your life is, some meditation is better than none.

Begin by sitting quietly. Make sure you feel supported and comfortable and try not to slouch or recline backward. If you feel discomfort or pain, feel free to change your posture. However, we don’t recommend lying down because falling asleep is easy.

If seated, place your feet firmly on the ground and feel your connection to the earth. If on the floor, comfortably cross your legs.

Keep your upper body straight but not stiff. Let your hands rest comfortably wherever they fall – on your knees, lap, or at your sides.

Soften your gaze and close your eyes. You can drop your chin a little if it feels good.

Take a few moments to check in with how your body feels without making any judgments.

Slowly bring your focus to your breathing. Mentally observe the rise and fall of your belly and chest as you inhale and exhale. How does it feel as it fills your lungs? What are the sensations as it passes through your nose? 

Allow yourself to breathe naturally without trying to change or control your breath. Quietly think to yourself, “breathe in” on each inhale and “breathe out” on the exhale. 

Undoubtedly your mind will start to wander. Random thoughts will pop into your head. Don’t worry. Try not to focus on any particular thought. Instead, practice observing them without reacting. An excellent visualization technique is that your thoughts are the waves on the ocean’s surface while you observe them from the peaceful depths. 

Remember that our thoughts are impossible to stop, but we can observe them peacefully. So with every random thought, bring your attention back to your breathing and silently repeat, “breath in, breath out.” 

When the alarm sounds, take a moment to notice the sensations in your body. How do you feel? What are your thoughts? Give yourself thanks for taking this special time just for you.

Other Meditation Practices

Meditation doesn’t always have to be about sitting quietly and observing your breath. There are many different styles. Here are three other meditation practices you can incorporate into your routine.

Bodyscan Meditation

When you practice bodyscan meditation, you bring focus to all the parts of your body, from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head. If you notice any aches or pains, that’s fine. You are just observing how each body part feels without judgment or reaction. 

If your mind starts to wander, bring your attention back to the last part you remember focusing on. Don’t worry about missing a few body parts when you first begin this practice. And if you fall asleep, no worries; kindly bring your attention back to the last part you remember when you wake. 

Walking Meditation

With walking meditation, you can inject a dose of mindfulness into your daily activities.

Start by walking at a natural pace. Then, begin counting your steps up to ten. When you reach ten, start over again. Notice how you walk and the rise and fall of your feet against the ground. Does your body sway from side to side? What are the sensations in your legs and hips?

If your mind wanders or something catches your attention, gently bring your focus back to counting your steps. 

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Ready to create a better relationship with yourself? When you practice Loving-Kindness Meditation, you remember that you deserve and are worthy of love.

Sit quietly and bring your attention to the present moment.

Start by focusing on kind acts you have done, and express gratitude for all the loving moments you have experienced in your life.

Then, begin to recite positive phrases about yourself silently. Some examples:

  • I am safe and secure
  • I am loved and loving
  • I am powerful

Come up with a few phrases that resonate with you. As you recite them, pause between each statement before proceeding to the next. You’ll begin to fall into a gentle rhythm like the rise and fall of your breath.

If your mind wanders, kindly return to silently reciting the phrases.

Next, visualize yourself in a circle of light surrounded by those who have been kind to you or inspired you. They can be living, someone from the past, or even fictitious. Feel yourself receiving all their love and inspiration. 

As you end, let go of the visualization and slowly repeat the phrases a few more times as you transform your relationship with yourself to one of kindness and love.

Meditation is simple, but no one said it’s easy. Commit to setting aside a few minutes every day for the next 30 days. 

At first, you will find that your mind wanders constantly. Buddhists call it the monkey mind for its non-stop chatter. But with practice, you’ll experience more moments of calm and quiet. 

Remember that meditation is not about the destination but rather the journey. Therefore, benefits will continue building every time you practice.