• Ella Ostrowski

A Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness


Mindfulness can mean the state of being conscious or aware of something, or a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. This can include calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.


This therapeutic technique has helped many people relieve stress and detach themselves from what could be hectic surroundings. It has the goal of waking up the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.


Meditation


Meditation can be described as an act of exploring or a way to train the mind. Often our minds wander, we are thinking about the future, focussing on the past, daydreaming, fantasising, or worrying. By using meditation, we can be brought back into the present moment and when it is completed efficiently it gives relief.


We already have the capacity to be present which means it does not require us to change anything about who we are. However, we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that many argue to have vast benefits.


To successfully meditate you need to practise the ability to suspend judgement and any unfocused thoughts that are hindering the process of relaxation. It is a simple practice that is available to everyone and if done properly it can increase calmness and clarity as well as promoting happiness which is why it is popular among many.


Basic meditation includes focusing on the present. The aim of it is not to stop thinking fully but to control your thinking and to pay closer attention to other things such as your physical sensations and thoughts. This often provides you with a new perspective that allows people to see more clearly and is why meditation is so popular. With time and practise mindfulness meditation can help us better understand what causes us worry and stress, and the things we can do to alleviate this.


Body Scan Meditation


This type of meditation involves systematically focusing on different sensations and areas, from your head to your toes. Start off at the top of your head and slowly bring your attention to your skin, one inch at a time. Try and see if you are able to feel your ears, your scalp, your eyelids and your nose.


Top Ten Tips for Meditation:

  1. Find a quiet space.

  2. Sit comfortably.

  3. Straighten your upper body.

  4. Focus on your breathing.

  5. Feel your breath.

  6. Notice when your mind wanders and try to regain a sense of focus.

  7. Set time aside to meditate so you can create a routine.

  8. Your mind wandering is normal when you meditate, however, when this happens, simply acknowledge what it is that was distracting you or that you were thinking about.

  9. Music can often help with remaining calm during meditation as it blocks out any surrounding sounds.

  10. The more you invest in focusing, the more you will get out of the process of meditation.



Top-Rated Apps for Mindfulness


Calm


This app is rated #1 for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation, with over 100 million downloads and over 1.5M+ 5-star reviews. It has also received Apple’s BEST OF 2018 award winner, Apple’s App of the Year 2017 and Google’s Play Editor’s Choice 2018. It offers help with improving your sleep quality, reducing stress or anxiety, improving focus, self-improvement and other things. Their mission is ‘to make the world happier and healthier’.


Cost: Calm offers a seven-day free trial with annual membership for around £29.99


InsightTimer


With over 45,000 free meditations it is clear to see why this app is so highly rated as it has an extensive amount of resources for users to access. As well as this it is easy to use as you can search and filter the content you want to view. Despite all the positive attributes of this app, it does have some pitfalls such as its many choices may overwhelm some users, technical glitches are common, and it is not the most intuitive app.


Cost: Free access to thousands of meditations. Premium costs £59.99 per year.


Headspace


This is a user-friendly app that is easy for anyone to use as it is guided for beginners. It uses cues to cope with external sounds and has a good variety of sources as it has hundreds of meditations to choose from. The negative attributes of this app are that purchasing a membership can be expensive as there is a need for a subscription to download the app. As well as this, it is not great for the less tech-minded.


Cost: Headspace offers a two-week free trial. An annual subscription is about £49.99 and a monthly membership costs around £9.99.


How to use meditation to assist with self-love


Everyone is worthy of self-love, however acknowledging this is a common struggle for a lot of people.

Meditation can be a great way to promote self-love as it helps clear your mind of any clouded or overwhelming thoughts. In addition to this, it can help to provide the perfect time out in your day and is a beneficial break from straining or concentrated activity such as work.



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