There has been a lot of discussion in the last few years about this thing called “Mindfulness”. In this world of smart phones and free wi-fi, it can be challenging to find stillness. The more busy schedules get, the more we are expected to multitask, eat on the go and rush through life, the more Mindfulness is desired.
What is it exactly?
Mindfulness is “being present and aware in a moment without judgement”.
That’s it. Getting still and letting our nervous systems settle is critical for balancing ourselves. If you can sit up in a chair with feet on the floor, place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Close your eyes. Feel your belly, then your chest, rise and fall naturally, listening to the air come in and out of your lungs. As you repeat this, try counting to five on the in breath and down from eight on the out breath. Then repeat for a few, slow, deep breaths. Do this for a minute any time you need to reduce anxiety, calm down and focus. This is a great breath pattern for settling down to sleep at night as it is calming.
A lot of scientific research has shown that Mindfulness helps improve focus and concentration and reduce stress and anxiety. And the most beautiful thing about it is it’s just breathing. And, we have our lungs with us from the moment we are born until the moment we die. They are always with us and they are free. Finding our breath puts us in a happier mood, helps us sleep deeper, reduces anxiety, helps our hearts be healthier, and improves our air intake among other benefits.
It’s as simple as taking one, slow, deep breath to deepening the Mindfulness Meditation experience to three, then five, then 10-20-30 minutes. More experienced meditators can meditate for an hour or more. The Dalai Lama meditates for something like seven hours a day.
The beauty of Mindfulness being trendy in the information age of smart phones, the Internet, tablets, and iPods is that there are free and low-cost apps available to guide us through Mindfulness meditation.
Some of the more popular apps are*:
- The Mindfulness App (free)
- Headspace (free)
- Calm (free)
- MINDBODY (free)
- Buddhify (Price: iPhone, $4.99 and Android, $2.99)
- Insight Timer (free)
- Smiling Mind (free)
- Meditation Timer Pro (Price: $0.99)
- Sattva (free)
- Stop, Breathe, & Think (free)
Additionally, there are hundreds of free guided meditation videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
Some of my favorites are:
The Honest Guys’ 10-Minute Guided Meditation is great first thing in the morning right after you wake up.
Yoga Nidra Body Scan Meditation is great if you have a little more time.
And this one from Michael Sealey is good any time to help reduce anxiety and stress: