Independently published by Sol y Tierra products
Why do I publish Mindfulness Practices books?
Daily prayers and mindfulness practices are part of my day-to-day routine. As small business owner and single dad, I face struggles and frustrations very often. The calm and focus that I sense comes, no doubt, from a good mindset, which is the outcome of practising mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention in the present moment without evaluation, a skill one develops through meditation or other training. Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques. Though definitions and techniques of mindfulness are wide-ranging, Buddhist traditions explain what constitutes mindfulness such as how past, present and future moments arise and cease as momentary sense impressions and mental phenomena. Individuals who have contributed to the popularity of mindfulness in the modern Western context include Thích Nhất Hạnh, Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard J. Davidson, and Sam Harris.
Why Mindfulness Practice Books are good for you?
Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Benefits of mindfulness
1 Stress reduction.Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. In 2010, Hoffman et al. analysed 39 studies that explored the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues.
2 Decrease in anxiety, negative affect, and emotional reactivity. The researchers found participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression and somatic distress compared with the control group. Mindfulness meditation shifts people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies in a way that enables them to experience emotion selectively, and that the emotions they experience may be processed differently in the brain (Farb et al., 2010; Williams, 2010). Mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared with people who saw the pictures but did not meditate (Ortner et al., 2007).
3 Mindfulness meditation affects our ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. Individuals who practice mindful meditation had significantly better attention and higher mindfulness, which were directly correlated with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
4 Reduced rumination.Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. For example, in one study by Chambers et al. (2008), participants at a 10-day intensive mindfulness retreat reported significantly higher mindfulness and a decreased negative affect compared with participants who did not engage in the mindfulness retreat. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination.
5 Relationship satisfaction.A person’s ability to be mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one’s emotions to a partner. Mindfulness: protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict (Barnes et al., 2007); is positively associated with the ability to express oneself in various social situations (Dekeyser el al., 2008); and predicts relationship satisfaction (Barnes et al., 2007; Wachs & Cordova, 2007).
How to practice meditation
Meditation is a practice derived from Hinduism and Buddhism. The goal of meditation is to focus and understand your mind—eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. Meditation is an ancient practice, but scientists are still discovering all of its benefits. Regular meditation can help you to control your emotions, enhance your concentration, decrease stress, and even become more connected to those around you.
With practice, you’ll be able to achieve a sense of tranquility and peace no matter what’s going on around you. There are many different ways to meditate, so if one practice doesn’t seem to work for you, consider trying a different type that works better for you before you give up.
How to prepare for your meditation practices
1 Choose a quiet, peaceful environment.
Meditation should be practiced in a peaceful location. A tranquil environment will enable you to focus exclusively on the task at hand and avoid external stimuli and distractions. Find a place where you will not be interrupted for the duration of your meditation—whether it lasts 5 minutes or half an hour. The space does not need to be very large—a walk-in closet or even an outdoor bench can be used for meditation as long as you have privacy.
- For those new to meditation, it’s especially important to avoid any external distractions. Turn off TV sets, phones, or other noisy appliances.
- If you play music, choose calm, repetitive tunes to avoid breaking your concentration. You can also play white noise or quiet nature sounds, like running water.
- Your meditation space does not need to be completely silent, so you won’t need earplugs. The sound of a lawnmower or dog barking shouldn’t prevent effective meditation. In fact, being aware of these noises without letting them dominate your thoughts is an important component of meditation.
- Meditating outside works for many so long as you don’t sit near a busy roadway or another source of loud noise. You can find peace under a tree or sitting on some lush grass in a favorite corner of a garden.
2 Wear comfortable clothes.
One of the major goals of meditation is to calm the mind and block out external distractions. This can be difficult if you feel physically uncomfortable due to tight or restrictive clothing. Try to wear loose clothing during meditation practice and make sure to remove your shoes.
- Wear a sweater or cardigan if you plan on meditating someplace cool, or bring a blanket or shawl you can wrap around yourself. You don’t want the sensation of feeling cold to consume your thoughts.
- If you are in a place where you can’t easily change your clothes, do your best to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Try just taking off your shoes.
3 Decide how long you want to meditate.
Before you begin, you should decide how long you are going to meditate. While many seasoned meditators recommend 20-minute sessions twice a day, beginners can start by doing as little as 5 minutes once a day.
- Once you have decided on a time frame, try to stick to it. Don’t just give up because you feel like it isn’t working. It will take time and practice to achieve successful meditation. Right now, the most important thing is to keep trying.
- Find a way to keep track of your meditation time without distracting yourself. Set a gentle alarm to alert you when your time is up. Or time your practice to end with a certain event—such as the sun hitting a certain spot on the wall.
4 Do some stretches before you start to prevent stiffness.
Meditation usually involves sitting in one spot for a certain period of time, so it is important to release any tension or tightness before you begin. A couple of minutes of light stretching can help prepare both your body and mind for meditation. It will also prevent you from focusing on any sore spots instead of relaxing.
- Remember to stretch your neck, shoulders, and lower back—especially if you’ve been sitting in front of a computer. Stretching out your legs—with an emphasis on the inner thigh—can be helpful when meditating in the lotus position.
- If you don’t already know how to stretch, consider learning different stretching techniques to try before you meditate. Many meditation experts recommend doing light yoga stretches before meditation.
5 Sit in a comfortable position.
It is very important that you are comfortable while you meditate, so finding the best position for you is the goal.
Traditionally, meditation is practiced by sitting on a cushion on the ground in either a lotus position or half-lotus position, but this position can be uncomfortable if you lack flexibility in your legs, hips, and lower back. You want to find a posture that allows you to sit with a balanced, tall, and straight posture.
- You can sit—with or without crossing your legs—on a cushion, chair, or meditation bench.
- Once seated, your pelvis should be tilted forward enough to center your spine over your “sit bones,” the 2 bones in your behind that bear your weight when seated. To tilt your pelvis into the right position, sit on the forward edge of a thick cushion or place something about 3 or 4 inches (7.6 or 10.2 cm) thick under the back legs of a chair.
- You can also a use a meditation bench, which is usually built with a tilted seat. If you’re using a bench that’s not tilted, put something under it, so it tilts forward between .5 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm).
6 Straighten your spine once you’re seated.
Good posture during meditation will keep you more comfortable.
Once you’re in a comfortable position, focus on the rest of your back. Start from your bottom and think about each vertebra in your spine as balancing one on top of another to support the whole weight of your torso, neck, and head.
- It requires practice to find the position that allows you to relax your torso with only slight effort being used to maintain your balance. Whenever you feel tension, relax the area. If you can’t relax it without slumping, check the alignment of your posture and seek to rebalance your torso, so those areas can relax.
- The most important thing is that you are comfortable, relaxed, and have a balanced torso, so your spine can support all of your weight from the waist up.
- The traditional hand placement involves resting your hands in your lap, palms facing upward, with your right hand on top of your left. However, you can also rest your hands on your knees or leave them hanging down by your side.
7 Close your eyes if it helps you focus and relax.
Meditation can be performed with the eyes open or closed.
As a beginner, it is often best to try meditating with closed eyes in order to avoid visual distractions.
- Once you have grown accustomed to meditation, you can try practicing with your eyes open. This tends to help if you find yourself falling asleep when meditating with your eyes closed or if you experience disturbing mental images, which happens to a small number of people.
- If you keep your eyes open, you will need to keep them “soft” by not focusing on any one thing in particular.
- You don’t want to go into a trance-like state. The goal is to feel relaxed, yet alert.