Increase your focus, reduce your stress, and live a happier life with this mindfulness for beginners guide. Keep reading to find out more.
Mindfulness for Beginners: Practicing Mindfulness for the Peaceful Mind
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Before you learn the different techniques of mindfulness for beginners, let’s get to the bottom of it. What is the definition of mindfulness, and how does it relate to meditation?
Different experts have various definitions of the term. Perhaps one of the most popular is that of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who many consider as the master in the subject.
According to him, there are four factors that comprise t mindfulness definition:
Awareness of the present moment
Every day, your brain has to filter through hundreds of pieces of information. Your entire body has to deal with so many things in the environment.
Then, as a human being, you go through various experiences, some of which may be unsatisfactory. All these can clutter the mind and increase your stress levels.
When you are under a lot of stress, your body and mind react. It can create physiological changes such as weakened immunity and digestive problems.
It may boost your risk of depression and anxiety, too, which can significantly affect your quality of life.
With mindfulness, you don’t just try to empty your mind. Instead, you intentionally focus on something — the present moment.
Most importantly, you do it without any judgments. You don’t beat yourself up if your mind wonders what your next meal will be or what that awful smell around you is.
How does this then become meditation?
Meditation and mindfulness can work together because they both deal with awareness and focus. They can also provide plenty of benefits, some of which you will know more about later on.
An Example of Mindfulness
To further understand mindfulness for beginners, here’s an illustration. Let’s pretend you lost a basketball game.
What will you feel? Perhaps you will feel shame, anger, and guilt.
You may even say, “I am such a failure, and I don’t deserve to be part of the team!” These are all normal feelings, but negative ones you should learn to cope with.
Now, let’s apply the definition of mindfulness here. Stop for a moment and pay attention to your thoughts about the game you lost.
Then, bring your awareness to that thought and the sensations you feel around your body. Do you notice your heart beating faster and the anger boiling up inside you?
Acknowledge them without adding any positive or negative comment. You may say, “My thoughts right now tell me I am angry and that I am a failure.”
Do you notice the difference? It may be subtle, but mindfulness helps you detach yourself from the actual feelings and emotions you may be having.
The distance can help you understand that your thoughts and feelings don’t have to define you. Even better, everything becomes clear because you can approach your negative emotions and challenges objectively.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
The 2011 review of existing literature is perhaps one of the types of research that expound on the miracle of mindfulness. According to it, mindfulness can:
- Improve life satisfaction, conscientiousness, empathy, competence, social anxiety, vitality, and agreeableness
- Help regulate emotions by activating the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that modulates social behavior, cognition, and personality expression, and by reducing the stimulation of the amygdala, which turns on the fight-or-flight response
- Induce physical changes in the brain such as increasing the thickness of the area responsible for attention and sensory processing
Some programs for mindfulness for beginners can also be forms of medical intervention. Take, for example, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) developed by Kabat-Zinn.
The purpose of the program is to introduce mindfulness activities that people who have medical conditions and chronic pain can do anywhere, including their homes. This way, they can cope with their experiences with better acceptance and less judgment.
Based on the studies, those who underwent such mindfulness exercises reported lower levels of rumination, anger, depression, and anxiety. They even showed fewer physical symptoms and perceived stress.
Effects of Mindfulness on the Gut Microbiome
Over the years, you learn more about the vital functions of the gut microbiome. These include:
- Regulating the immune system by training them to identify good and bad microorganisms
- Managing our emotions due to the connection of the brain and the gut via the vagus nerve
- Supporting healthy metabolism by diversifying the various strains of microorganisms present in the intestines
- Reducing the risks of chronic diseases including autoimmune conditions
What is the gut microbiome? It refers to the different strains of bacteria, fungi, and viruses residing in the intestines.
Many factors, however, can impact the gut flora negatively, and one of these is psychological stress. It can release certain hormones such as cortisol that can then disturb the microbiota.
Meanwhile, when the person is not stressed out, the healthy microbiome secretes beneficial fatty acids that possess anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2017 research study showed meditation such as mindfulness can bring down the levels of stress. This, in turn, may help maintain the good condition of your gut.
How to Practice Mindfulness for Beginners
There are different mindfulness techniques perfect for beginners:
1. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A form of guided mindfulness meditation in which a professional helps the person deal with their maladaptive behaviors. They do so by changing the way their patient processes or analyzes their thoughts.
For those who don’t want to go through the process alone, they can also participate in a group-based CBT. Either way, this is a time-limited and structured approach to using mindfulness as a psychological treatment.
2. Raisin (Or Any Object) Exercise
This is an excellent training of mindfulness for beginners because it’s easy to do. You simply need to focus on a particular object, such as a raisin, and pay attention to your senses.
- How does it feel when you touch it?
- How does it respond to your touch?
- What colors can you see?
- How does it smell or taste
3. Mindful Seeing
This is quite similar to the raisin exercise except you use the sense of sight with this one.
- Find a window with a view. You can stand or sit near it but make sure you can see clearly.
- Begin the mindfulness exercise. Observe what you see; notice their characteristics such as their colors, shape, and textures.
- Don’t pass judgment while you’re doing it, and avoid fixating your sights on an object only.
You can also improve the outcomes of your mindfulness exercises with the following tips:
1. Eat healthy – Incorporating foods and blends such as Ormus Super Greens can help take care of your body and mind. The fewer physical symptoms you experience, the better can you concentrate on your mindfulness techniques.
2. Use quotes on mindfulness for affirmation and inspiration – Mindfulness quotes can help motivate you to keep going even if you don’t see results during your initial attempts. They can also serve as affirmations which can also change the way your mindset works.
3. Write down your experience – If you’re practicing the strategies of mindfulness for beginners, you can track your progress more effectively if you write them down. Besides, writing can also be an active form of meditation.
4. Be gentle and kind to yourself – Practicing mindfulness is hard, and you will find yourself committing a lot of mistakes along the way. Don’t be harsh on yourself, but instead, persevere and be consistent.
Watch Dr. Weston share how you can sharpen your mental focus in this video by Sunwarrior:
As you go along your journey, you will discover more techniques to enhance your meditation and experience more of its benefits. For now, this guide to mindfulness for beginners should set you toward the right path so you can start today.
How do you practice mindfulness in your life? Share your stories and tips in the comments section below!