Keeping up a Mindfulness & Meditation Practice

Whether you joined us on the BodyLove Spring Challenge or not, sometimes it can be a challenge to continue with good mindfulness and meditation habits. That’s why we are so delighted to share this blog post, written by our friends at Centred Meditation, who are absolute gurus when it comes to incorporating mindfulness into our busy, everyday lives. Let’s hand it over to Nikki, who explains the best way to keep up a meditation practice (and if you can make it to their beautiful Sydney CBD meditation space, be sure to book yourself in for a gorgeous guided meditation!).

Why keep it up?

Let’s face it… life can be stressful! We are constantly bombarded by countless demands and pressures tugging us in all different directions at any given moment. We spend the majority of our time inside our minds stuck in the past or the future. Wondering, wallowing, worrying. Speculating, scrutinising, surmising. Replaying, ruminating, rehearsing. Stress not only diminishes our productivity, it also has detrimental effects on our health and wellbeing. It impacts our quality of sleep, impairs our memory, lowers our immunity, affects our digestion, ages our skin faster, and the list goes on. Not to mention that it’s a known risk factor in almost every disease and disorder.

The good news is that stress isn’t a given. Our demands and external pressure inputs are only potential stressors. It is the cognitive processes which occur in our brain and the subsequent physiological response of our body that determine whether we actually experience these inputs as stress or not. With cognitive re-structuring (such as mindfulness practice), we can train our brains not to perceive these pressure inputs as threats, and with regular physiological de-excitation (such as meditation), we can train our bodies not to immediately default into fight-or-flight mode.

So the bottom line is, if you want to stress less, it’s worth keeping up!

How to bring meditation and mindfulness into your day to day life:

Meditation is a simple technique of the mind which triggers a particular physiological response in the body known as the relaxation response. The relaxation response is the process of de-escalating our stress mode and inducing deep relaxation through the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.

How to practice meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably. Ideally upright, without the head supported. It’s perfectly OK to have your back supported (eg on a comfortable chair).
  2. Bring your attention to an anchor of your choice (your breath, a sound, an image etc).
  3. As you realise that you are engaged in thought, gently guide your attention back to your anchor, without judgement.
  4. Repeat steps 2-4 for as long as you have set your meditation goal for.
  5. Remember, you aren’t trying to PUSH the thoughts away or STOP them from arising. You are simply giving preference to your chosen anchor.

Mindfulness gives us access to the present moment. It is the key to unlocking the experience of NOW and experiencing a moment as it truly is. Without judgment. Without commentary. Just purely as it is.  In real terms, mindfulness is about how we treat and direct our attention. It is a non-judgemental, forgiving state of mind utilising relaxed focus.

How to practice mindfulness:

  1. Bring a complete yet gentle attention to whatever you are currently doing (meditating, listening, eating, watching TV etc).
  2. The mind inevitably wanders away – approximately 47% of the time.
  3. When you become aware that your mind has wandered, gently return your attention to the object of focus (breath, conversation, food, etc), without any judgement or self-criticism.

They key is actually remembering to practice meditation and mindfulness.

Five tips for remembering to practice:

  1. Set yourself reminders throughout the day to check-in and bring mindfulness to whatever you are doing at that exact moment.
  2. Wind meditation into your everyday morning routine. It’s as easy as setting your alarm clock just 5 or 10 minutes earlier and getting to that chair or cushion at the same time each day.
  3. Utilise a well engrained habit as a trigger to practice mindfulness. Do you brush your teeth everyday? Start brushing them each day using all of your senses…watch the toothbrush in the mirror, feel the sensations of the bristles against your teeth, listen to the sound it makes as it glides, taste the toothpaste in your mouth….
  4. Book in a meditation class and treat it as an appointment. Our guests at Centred Meditation love to reserve their armchairs online and import their appointment with themselves into their calendar. That way, nothing can get in the way of their practice and they are guaranteed their thirty minutes of self-maintenance.
  5. Set aside part of your lunch break to just breathe. Take ten complete and mindful breaths before you get back to work.