By Gidon Fineman, BAMBA registered mindfulness teacher
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a basic human skill; the ability to be fully present, alive, and awake to our experience. When we practice mindfulness we create a place of refuge for our minds; a way of finding steadiness and balance, so that we can turn towards the present moment with a greater sense of ease, gentleness, and insight.
There is no one way to start a mindfulness practice. Many of us might notice that we are already capable of being ‘mindful’, even if we have never intentionally ‘practiced’ or cultivated mindfulness before. However, research indicates that we all have the capacity to train and nurture our minds, and through the practice of mindfulness meditation, we can begin to effectively change how we relate to both our mind and our body experience. Simple meditation practices can help us find freedom from cycles of stress, unhappiness and exhaustion, and can help us live with more lightness, openness, joy, and ease of being.
How to get started with mindfulness meditation?
One way to get started with mindfulness is to develop an awareness of sensations in the body. One of my teachers likes to say that the body is ‘always here, always in the present moment’. Whilst our minds might often be caught up in thoughts about the past, or the future, we can always return our attention to our bodies, as a way of grounding ourselves, and taking care of our minds.
As a first step, it can be helpful to find an anchor point in the body, a place where you can easily rest your attention. For some people this might be a sense of the breath moving through the body, for others a sense of the hands, the feet, or the legs. Choose an anchor point in the body that feels clear and uncomplicated for you.
Begin by simply sitting in a comfortable, upright posture. See if it is possible to bring a friendly interest to the flow of different sensations in the body. When your mind wanders away from your chosen anchor point, notice where your mind has travelled to, and gently, without judgement, see if you can simply return to being in touch with your body sensations again.
Every time you gently redirect your attention, either back to the body or to the breath, you are honing your capacity for intentional, mindful presence, and laying the foundations for further mindful awareness.
How to take a mindfulness practice further?
There are numerous ways to develop your mindfulness meditation practice. Whilst there are plenty of apps and online resources you can use, one of the best ways to learn mindfulness is from a properly trained mindfulness teacher. To find a registered teacher, check out the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches UK teacher listing: https://bamba.org.uk/
I am also part of a collective of mindfulness teachers and together we run a daily mindfulness meditation session online, freely offered, at 6pm every weekday. Check out: https://www.keepcalmer.co.uk/
For more information visit www.gidonfineman.co.uk
credit photo: salon.com