Trying to inject more mindfulness into your life? Good for you! Mindfulness is a complicated endeavor, full of opportunities to get discouraged and feel like you’re doing it wrong. We hope these mindfulness tips make the practice a bit easier for you!
1. Remember, mindfulness isn’t a relaxation exercise, it’s an attention exercise. If you do a session of mindfulness meditation and don’t feel more relaxed afterward than you did before, it’s ok! Relaxation is sometimes a byproduct of meditation, but it is not the goal.
2. Maintain a nonjudgmental attitude toward whatever comes up in your mind. Remember: your job is just to observe what you’re experiencing, not to control or shape it.
3. You don’t need to set aside half an hour of daily meditation to include mindfulness in your life! You can practice mindfulness for part of a walk down the street, or take a brief mindfulness break when you’re at your desk at work. The breathing space exercise is a nice way to include more brief moments of mindfulness in your day.
4. If you’ve tried it before and feel like “it didn’t work,” that doesn’t mean it’s not for you. It likely means your expectations were too short-term. Mindfulness is a practice; it has its effect over time, often over weeks and months and years.
5. If you meditate and feel like you can’t get control your thoughts… welcome to the club! This doesn’t mean you aren’t good at meditating. This is what it’s like to meditate. “Successful” meditation does not involve eliminating thoughts. It involves cultivating an increased awareness and familiarity with our minds and the thoughts that present themselves to us endlessly. Our minds have an inherent tendency to wander; noticing that tendency in mindfulness practice is a good thing.
6. In your efforts to practice mindfulness, be gentle with yourself at all times. You won’t get anywhere with the process if you don’t.
7. Don’t believe everything you think! In your mindfulness practice, notice the difference between having a thought and believing that thought.
8. Remember: the present moment is reality, and it’s good to have a healthy relationship with that reality. Mindfulness practice helps us take this healthy step.
9. In mindfulness meditation, we essentially regard emotions and thoughts in the same way. They are passing phenomena to be observed as they come and go. And make no mistake: they all come and go. Consider thoughts and emotions as one would regard twigs or leaves floating down a stream as we sit safely nearby.
If you’re looking for more substantial guidance, consider seeking out a mindfulness or meditation group near you, or check out the mindfulness page on this site.
The author would like to acknowledge the contributions of meditation instructor Jane Stevens to the material presented here.