What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness has become extremely popular lately – it is the western interpretation of central elements of eastern teachings such as Buddhism.
When we think of Buddhism, we often think of monks sitting in the lotus position, meditating several times a day. But mindfulness is more than just meditation, it is the practice of staying mindful of yourself throughout the day. It is formally practiced through meditation. But the true goal here is to take the lessons you learn through it with you into your daily life.
While the practice of mindfulness is not new, it only recently became popular.
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine, founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. He integrated elements of Buddhism and Yoga with scientific findings to help modern people deal with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness.
Due to its secular teachings without religious mysticism, it quickly became popular around the world.
Benefits of morning rituals
Why should you begin your day with morning mindfulness?
- It will help you pay better attention towards your needs
- It will allow you to avoid running on “autopilot”
- It will reduce stress and anxiety
Since most of our days will be consumed by work, the morning is the best time to incorporate a short mindfulness practice. That way, you will be able to really set your mind to it for the rest of the day before you might be encumbered by stress and fatigue.
But how does it work? Basically, mindfulness is built upon formal and informal practices. This means that while you practice how to be mindful in a practice setting such as sitting and meditating, you will also try to be mindful throughout your day (this is informal practice). Athletes especially can benefit from this since it allows them to also be more mindful during training.
How to get going: Your first morning meditation
As you can see, mindfulness has a lot of benefits. But how do you get going?
First, make time for it in the morning. You might get up a little earlier or go for breakfast a little later. No matter how you do it, make sure you make the time for it first thing in the morning. Give yourself time to just sit there. This way, you set the tone for the rest of your day.
Now, the first time you meditate, there is not going to be an immediate epiphany. Just like exercising, it takes time to see results. It is completely normal to not just “get it” the first tries. Don’t worry about getting results. Enjoy the process and the results will come.
As for which way to meditate, there are different approaches, depending on which book you read or which app you use.
Beginners should take advantage of guided meditations, like those found within the Mindset content of the Freeletics App. These will help you get used to the process and allow you to just follow your guide during the process.
Your initial mindfulness meditation will teach you to listen inward to yourself--how your body feels, the intake and exhalation of your breath, and the thoughts that come and go in your mind.
Practicing (informal) mindfulness
After a while, you may find a feeling of stillness when meditating. Now the ultimate goal is to take that feeling with you throughout your day.
Feel yourself worked up because of an inconvenience during your commute? Or getting angry at a coworker? Try to get back into that habit of just perceiving what is happening, without judging it.
That way, you will see those occurrences for what they are: Just small parts of your day that ultimately, have small to no impact on your life. Why should you focus on them and, ultimately, miss out on the good parts.
Mindfulness gives you the ability to choose what you want to focus on in life. It will allow you to let go of minor inconveniences and be more present for the meaningful parts of your day.
Want to get started? Check out the Mindset content in the Freeletics app.