Different Types of Mindfulness

What type of mindfulness is best for you? Depends on what challenges you face and what purpose you want to use mindfulness for.

 

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviours) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.

 

Mindfulness meditation builds upon concentration practices. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Go with the flow. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.
  • Pay attention. You also notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.
  • Stay with it. At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with a wider and wider range of your experiences.

 

Practice acceptance

 

Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Gently redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydream, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.
  • Try and try again. If you miss your intended meditation session, you simply start again.

By practicing accepting your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.

 

Cultivate mindfulness informally

 

In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

 

Exercises to try on your own

If mindfulness meditation appeals to you, going to a class or listening to a meditation tape can be a good way to start. In the meantime, here are two mindfulness exercises you can try on your own.

 

Practicing mindfulness meditation

 

This exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.

 

  1. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
  2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
  4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

 

Invest in yourself

 

The effects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related — the more you do, the more effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start.

 

Learning to stay in the present

 

A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you to stay in the present and fully participate in your life. You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild. Attending to these points will help:

 

  • Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
  • Now breathe out through your mouth
  • Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
  • Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation
  • Engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound so that you savor every sensation.

 

When you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.

 

Source: helpguide.org