How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Alleviate Stress

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Mindfulness meditation offers countless health benefits: from reducing stress levels and alleviating anxiety, to improving the quality of your sleep and, as a result, your vitality. Here's how to start your practice.

What You'll Need

  • 10 minutes a day
  • positive attitude

What You'll Do

  • Back to nature Get outside for a hike or a stroll in a park; if you live nearby the river, or a lake, or an ocean – get out there more and just stare into the water. Learn from water: the river never holds all water that passes through it; you too should let go of everything that’s been weighing you down. Research suggests that being outdoors reduces stress levels, improves your energy, your attention, and memory.
  • Breathing deeply Become conscious of your breathing. “Yoga teachings say that the longer the breath, the longer you live. Inhale and slowly count to three, then exhale and do the same again. Employ your entire torso – your nostrils, throat, collarbones, ribcage, and diaphragm. Feel the rush of fresh, oxygenated blood fill you with renewed life.” – Alfred Jones (mindfulness coach)
  • Think clay pigeon shooting – do one thing at a time One Zen proverb goes like this: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Allow yourself to do one thing at a time. Stop multi-tasking, single-task instead. When you are peeling potatoes, just peel potatoes. When you are eating, just eat enjoying each bite. Don’t try to overkill it by knocking off lots of to-dos while driving, eating or clay pigeon shooting. Besides, “Studies have found that when people divide their attention, it takes them 50% longer to accomplish a task and they are 50% more likely to make errors” mindfulness teacher Melli O’Brien suggests. 
  • There’s no need to worry about the future or keep revisiting the past Learn to separate your thoughts from emotions. Pay attention to your thought patterns. Are you always worrying about the future or trying to escape to the familiar past? Learn to pause and recognize when you do that and then just pull yourself back to the present moment. What are you doing right now? Focus on that. Enjoy the present moment to the fullest. Mindfulness is not necessarily about being constantly blissful and happy. No. It’s about total acceptance of the present moment as it is, without trying to control or resist it. We all experience painful emotions about our past and feeling anxious about the future sometimes – don’t try to avoid these feelings take it in, sit with it, make a map of it, turn it into a learning opportunity of self-discovery. When I feel anxious, and my fears are trying to bubblewrap me from life experiences, I flip it, I ask questions. FEAR is a question – WHAT are you afraid of and WHY – all our concerns are a treasure-house of self-knowledge when we mindfully choose to explore them.
  • ARTify! Take a moment and think of your favorite creative practice that brings you the most joy. Whatever it is, throw yourself into it – whether it’s journaling, painting, baking cookies, mandala coloring, or dancing or even singing in the shower; see how fast those activities would quieten down your thoughts and decrease stress and get you in the flow state of heightened awareness. Be creative, express yourself.
  • Gratitude practice Look around. And then start paying attention to the things and experiences and people you are truly grateful for in your life. Even the smallest details in the everyday daily life that were taken for granted pay attention to those and offer your thanks. What does it feel like when you express your heartfelt appreciation? Gratitude is an incredibly powerful emotion that can significantly make our lives better.
  • Think waves: it’s about accepting the ebb and flow  Every weekend I escape the city to find myself at the seaside staring at the waves of a raging ocean, coming at you at full speed and crashing against the cliffs of Portland Bill in Dorset. I’ve always been fascinated by the magic of that moment teaching me about the very nature of the ebb and flow of things, becoming aware and accepting it. This crystal clear understanding that absolutely nothing is permanent and that everything is in the constant state of flux was one of the critical moments in my mindfulness practice. Accepting it was crucial and liberating at the same time. When we live in the moment, without escaping and judging our past, or trying to predict and control the future, that’s where we find peace. We find peace when we choose to become an observer, the seer, living the life, experiencing it to the fullest, without fighting or objecting its natural flow.
  • Mindfulness helped me to become more aware of the present and reach deeper into the pool of inner peace. And that was life-changing. And so as my self-awareness increased gradually, little by little, I started to notice tiny, yet profound positive changes in my everyday life. The more familiar I’ve become with the way my mind worked, its thinking patterns and where I needed to change them, the better I’ve started to feel. And it all started with those seven habits that I just shared with you.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mindfulness helped me to become more aware of the present and reach deeper into the pool of inner peace. And that was life-changing. And so as my self-awareness increased gradually, little by little, I started to notice tiny, yet profound positive changes in my everyday life. The more familiar I’ve become with the way my mind worked, its thinking patterns and where I needed to change them, the better I’ve started to feel. And it all started with those seven habits that I just shared with you.
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