Taking care of your mind, reducing stress and anxiety, reducing sleep disturbances, being kind to yourself and others. Mindfulness meditation is a practice with multiple benefits for everyone. Discover the advice of our specialist to learn how to meditate and take care of yourself daily.
If this practice, which is subject to many prejudices, may seem difficult to those who have problems concentrating, who have a high level of stress, or who have difficulty settling down and have an agitated mind, it is nevertheless accessible to all and is highly recommended! So let’s get started?
Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness: What Is It?
Mindfulness meditation could be defined as “deliberately focusing attention on the present moment,” for example, concentrating on breathing or physical sensations. A posture that allows one to put oneself in an observer’s position and no longer an actor of one’s mental functioning: what’s going on in my mind? What are the sensations that I can observe, in my body, in my mind? What are these thoughts that pass in the present moment?
“We all can be in the present moment, we all can discover this space of freedom that allows us to get off the autopilot: driving on the way home from work and not even remembering the turns we took, for example… But it’s true all the time: cooking dinner in the evening, doing your job or even saying hello! We’re not really in the present moment…” explains Benjamin Blasco, co-founder of the Petit BamBou meditation application.
Do Not Confuse Meditation and Relaxation.
Meditation is often confused with relaxation, but it is not the same thing. In meditation, the objective is not to relax or fall asleep but to observe what happens. For example, we will keep that we are stressed this morning; afterward, it is up to us to remedy it. Even if meditation helps a lot get rid of stress, coming back to the present moment is not the primary objective. We could compare this practice to “gymnastics, a stretching of the brain”: we will train it to function like this afterward and enjoy the benefits in our daily life. There is a dimension of involvement in meditation that there is not in relaxation.
Meditation Is Not Thinking About Nothing!
Another preconceived idea about meditation that often comes up is that meditation consists of not thinking about anything anymore, of emptying our head. On the contrary, in meditation, we are free to think about what we want, we let our thoughts (sometimes numerous!) pass, we observe them, without feeding them, and little by little, these thoughts will go away. And maybe they will even come back, and in this case, in the same way, we let them “pass like a cloud.”
Why Mindfulness Meditation?
More than 8 out of 10 people have already tried to reduce their stress by practicing a relaxing activity, such as meditation (for 43% of them), according to a study conducted by Petit Bambou and YouGov.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation, called mindfulness, are multiple and have been scientifically proven.
Training the brain can reduce stress, learn to live better with it, reduce anxiety, improve sleep in case of sleep disorders (insomnia, for example).
This practice, accessible to all, allows you to gain serenity and be more attentive, to improve concentration, because you are less dispersed, more in the present moment, and less in anticipation and interpretation.
It also makes it possible to better connect with others, be more compassionate, benevolent, and altruistic: mindfulness meditation allows us to accept ourselves and others without judgment or aggression.
Good to know: this practice is for everyone of all ages. In case of severe psychological problems, always seek the advice of a doctor.
Find a Suitable Place to Learn to Meditate.
If it is possible to meditate everywhere (in transportation, in the middle of a corridor, in a crowded room), and in many different ways (while eating lunch, stretching, walking, etc), to begin with, it is recommended to be in a relatively quiet and silent place. Not necessarily where silence is absolute, but a place where you will not be too disturbed.
During your session, distractions can potentially appear, and it doesn’t matter. It can even be interesting because these are all things you will be able to observe.
Focusing your attention on the sounds you can hear around you, for example, allows you to be in the moment: you hear a radiator going off, for example, rather than going into a story (“Look, it’s the neighbor who’s throwing it, is she here today?”), the idea is to observe this noise and then be able to come back to your breath, taking it by the hand in a way.
Adopt a Comfortable Posture to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
To learn how to meditate, it is advisable to start sitting: you can either sit on the front of a chair, without leaning against the backrest or sit on a cushion made of a suit (if you are comfortable, that posture is comfortable for you, as it may require a little practice).
The right position to adopt :
Keep your back relatively straight but not tense (not on the backrest if you’re in a chair)
Place your feet flat on the floor to feel well-anchored if you are on a chair.
Put your hands flat on your thighs.
Your shoulders are a little forward.
Relax your body, but stand upright on your vertebrae (to be awake and not fall asleep during the session).
Close your eyes, or leave them half-open if you prefer.
Imagine that you have a wire over your head, which straightens you up.
Start with Short Meditation Sessions.
This practice’s objective with multiple benefits for the body and mind is to integrate it into daily life by establishing a certain regularity.
No question of putting pressure on yourself, to feel the first benefits of mindfulness meditation, and to tame this practice, start in a concise way, it is not necessary to meditate for 5 hours! First, you can opt for 5 to 10-minute sessions on one application and extend the meditation time as you go along if you wish.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Breath, to Be in The Present Moment.
One of the basics of meditation is the observation of breath. To begin, you can take a few minutes during the day to observe your breath, your inspirations, your exhalations, how the air column passes through you.
To help you, you can count your breath. Just by following your breath, you will be able to realize that you can observe more serenely what is happening in your mind: I saw this thought pass, I come back to the breath, another thought passes, I come back to my breath again. Do not hesitate to do it 100 times if it is necessary. The idea is to be in the present moment; whether your mind is very agitated or not, it is possible, by merely following the breath!
Experience It, and Find the Moment that Suits You Best to Meditate.
Regularity is the key to feeling all the virtues of mindfulness meditation. After discovering and appreciating this practice, the idea is to integrate it into your daily life. Still, without putting pressure on yourself, it must come naturally, little by little, starting with sessions 2 to 3 times a week, and why not every day if you feel the need or desire.
For this practice to take its place quite naturally in your daily life, it is essential to find the right moment, the right situation, which makes us feel good.
The question of the moment is critical: is it early in the morning, when you wake up? Or in the morning, hanging on to another habit to make them stronger together (after your shower or brushing your teeth, for example). In the morning, the mind is more composed; there are fewer things to observe.
Would this moment for you be more integrated into your lunch break because it’s quieter?
Or are you more of those who prefer to meditate in the evening? Beware, the risk is falling asleep, which is not the goal. So if meditating puts you to sleep, plan a session a little earlier in the evening because it is necessary to avoid fighting against sleep while practicing. It will be good preparation for the falling asleep phase!
To find the time that suits you best, test, experience mindfulness meditation at different times of the day, and see what works best for you.
Don’t Be Judgmental
“Ah, that’s good, I passed this meditation session, I didn’t have any problem concentrating…”, “Olala, I completely missed this meditation session, my mind was elsewhere, I’m not happy with myself”: we all tend to be in judgment, for the last thing we do, and meditation is no exception! However, as Benjamin Blasco reminds us, “there is no successful meditation or failed meditation.”
Did you have trouble concentrating today? The mind was very restless. You can observe it, you recognize it, and you say to yourself that this is just the way you were at that moment.
In mindfulness meditation practice, there’s nothing to achieve, nothing to reach, so there’s no reason to judge yourself, to be in performance or arm wrestling with your mind; you just have to “let yourself be.”
There is nothing to achieve; meditation is simply an art of living. To feel good; it must not become a tension, an obligation.
Choose the length of sessions that suit you, observe your resistance that comes, or boredom, tensions in the back (the idea is not to have pain, stretch and come back). Adapt your session time to your current state, your needs, your desires.
Gradually Integrate This Practice Into Your Daily Life.
Mindfulness meditation is “training to be” and can become a way of life. The idea is to apply it in everyday life (while eating, washing dishes, walking in the street, etc) after having learned the basics through formal meditation sessions.
Your stomach is a little knotted because of the stress that rises before a meeting, an exam, an appointment, a public speaking? Meditation can help you to come back to the present moment in a few minutes, thanks to conscious breathing that allows you to be there, and not in the assumptions, projections?
Once you have tried one or two formal mindfulness meditation sessions, using an application, try to do it informally (in a meeting, put your hands on the table for 2 or 3 breaths, to get back to the present moment, really be there, in transport, put your hands on your thighs, leave your eyes half-open or closed, and come back to your breath, etc.).
I Can’t Meditate, how Can I Do It?
If you encounter difficulties when you first begin mindfulness meditation, it is entirely normal. Some days, when you are more tired, more stressed, more anxious, with a more agitated mind, you will have to take your thoughts by the hand several times to chase them away, sometimes a hundred times before you get to be there, here, and now. But again, this does not mean that you have “missed your meditation session” since there are no results to be achieved.
And in the same way, if you drop out of meditation for a week, if you can’t get back into it as regularly as you’d like, it doesn’t matter.
Each session is a new session, no matter whether you meditated the day before or six months ago.
Return to your most profound attention: why am I sitting down today to meditate? Why do I feel like stopping for 10 minutes right now?
This attention can vary from day to day, from week to week. We can start a session with attention, listening to ourselves, without forcing ourselves, identifying what makes us need it, before meditating, can help to make sense of things, to let things emerge.
“Mindfulness meditation is a journey, and as in life, there are ups and downs. You have to listen to yourself, sometimes facing pain, sadness, or even happiness”,