Although practicing mindfulness is linked to complex meditation techniques, it is easier than you think and can be practiced anytime, anywhere. However, it is recommended to put aside a fixed time of your day for mindfulness.
The relaxation response technique or meditation process includes the following steps:
- Sit quietly in a place free of distractions, maintaining a good posture. Sitting is preferred to lying down to avoid falling asleep.
- Close your eyes for 10-20 minutes.
- Relax your muscles consciously starting with the feet and progressing up to your face.
- Breathe through your nose in a free and natural way.
- Silently repeat a word, sound, or phrase that perhaps has special meaning to you.
- Intruding worries or thoughts should be ignored or dismissed to the best of your ability by focusing on the sound, word, or phrase.
- Notice thoughts as they arise and let them go without judging them as good or bad.
- Do not set an alarm; however, it is ok to open your eyes to watch time.
After 10-20 minutes of meditation:
- Remain seated, first with your eyes closed and then with your eyes open.
- Gradually allow your thoughts to return to reality.
For first-timers, practicing this technique may be difficult but over time almost anyone can achieve a desired state of relaxation. You can practice this technique once or twice a day. However, practicing it within 2 hours after eating a meal is not recommended because the digestion process may interfere with the technique.
How mindfulness practice helps me to relax?
The mindfulness practice of meditation is based on relaxation response techniques. It is a state of deep relaxation in which our breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure are kept under control. If you train your body daily to achieve this state of relaxation, it can lead to mood enhancement, blood pressure control, and stress reduction. The relaxation response can also be elicited through other meditative and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation.
It eliminates the opposite reaction of the body that happens due to a stressful response, which causes an adrenaline rush. Meditation increases blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing rate, and blood flow to the muscle. Meditation activates the area of the brain that controls your attention span and allows it to grow over time. It can also fatten up the brain stem and increase the grey matter, which helps you to process your emotions better and stay healthier.
Mindfulness practice or meditation exercises cannot stop your thought process, but mindfulness will change your perspective about them. Thoughts are part of our life whether you want them. However, these techniques help you to let these negative thoughts come and go as you direct your attention elsewhere. This makes you acknowledge your negative thoughts and does not let these thoughts be your enemy and hamper your health and happiness.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness can benefit in the following ways:
- Reduces stress: Controls and reduces the stress caused by a cluttered, overstimulated mind and creates a greater sense of joy.
- Self-control: Achieve better control over emotions by altering the brain wave patterns. Gradually, it helps you process your emotions better and stay healthier. It breeds self-control within you and makes you less reactive to the surrounding impulses. Over time, it gives you more control over your emotions and helps you process them differently.
- Improves heart health: Decreases anxiety, improves heart health, and achieves a greater capacity for relaxation.
- Alleviates mental illnesses: This may also help with anxiety and mood disorders. Early studies also show that people who have bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder might benefit from mindfulness. If antidepressants have helped you, mindfulness may work just as well and reduce the necessity of medication.
- Alleviate pain: Mindfulness may not be able to take away the pain or cure what causes it, but it can help you feel all your emotions, including positive ones. It can also help you take control of the pain and your feelings to handle your condition better.
- Improves immunity: Some studies show that it may boost your immune system and even help with the effects of aging. However, more research is needed to understand exactly what those effects are and how they work.
- Improves overall health: This can improve your health, and it may help you live longer too. If you train your body daily to achieve this state of relaxation, it can enhance mood, lower blood pressure, improve digestion, and reduce everyday stress.
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WebMD. What Mindfulness Can Do for You. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-mindfulness
Collins S. How Mindfulness Can Help Your Health. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/mindfulness-stress-depression-anxiety
Gillihan SJ. 5 Easy Ways to Practice Mindfulness Every Day. WebMD. https://blogs.webmd.com/mental-health/20190611/5-easy-ways-to-practice-mindfulness-every-day