The art of mindfulness meditation
Practising mindfulness meditation can be a valuable way to improve your mental wellbeing. Lucy Richards, General Manager of Smiling Mind, explains how.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. It’s about building your awareness of the present moment by focusing attention on the here and now, rather than getting caught up thinking about the past, or worrying about the future.
The mind is like a muscle. Just as we exercise and eat healthy to keep our bodies fit, practising mindfulness meditation is a way of keeping our brain fit and healthy too.
Global research shows that mindfulness meditation helps manage stress, build resilience, increase focus and concentration. Learning the skills to be more in the present moment ensures that you can live a more fulfilled, enriched life and literally "stop to smell the roses" in our busy, tech filled world.
Meditation for mental health
Mindfulness meditation builds your ability to be in the present moment, with acceptance and without judgment. By learning to focus your attention in this way, you are also building awareness of your thoughts, emotions, sensations and experiences.
From a mental health point of view, it is incredibly self-empowering to be aware of your experiences and see them for what they actually are, rather than getting caught up in the story behind them, which can often lead to mental ill-health.
How to practise meditation
Smiling Mind (and the research!) suggests practising between 3-5 times per week to really feel the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Smiling Mind's meditations are guided and last between 5-15 minutes, so they are easy to implement even into the busiest of days. Being an app also ensures that users can meditate on their commute on the way to work, before they go to bed or even whilst making their cup of tea!
Meditation is quite a personal experience, and different people will naturally connect with different types of meditation. The beauty of mindfulness meditation is that you can use anything as the focus for your attention; breath, body, sounds, even a piece of chocolate! This allows you to practice mindfulness meditation in a way that suits you.
Just as importantly, being mindful on a moment-to-moment basis allows you to bring moments of calm, clarity and contentment into your everyday life – for example whilst eating lunch, having a cup of tea, whilst in conversation, or when emailing at work. This is what we call 'informal' mindfulness, and an individual can use it in ways which relate to them best.
Starting a meditation routine
To get started, download Smiling Mind's free app. Our meditations are short, guided easy to follow. If you're a first timer, meditating first thing in the morning, or last thing in the evening before bed is a great start, and you only need to set aside five minutes.
Like starting anything for the first time, we know that you need to be reminded and encouraged to keep up the practice to build the routine, so within your account you can set yourself reminders. Everyone's life is different and we have lots of different meditations in there so you can find the ones that suit you best.
To start your mindfulness meditation journey visit smilingmind.com.au.