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Mindfulness Meditation Guide: How to Start a Daily Practice

Erik Vienneau
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Almost everyone in the yoga world now accepts mindfulness meditation – present moment awareness with non-attachment – as something they should add to their practice.
 
Scientifically studied benefits of mindfulness meditation include stress reduction, reduction of depression and anxiety, increased brain function, an immune system boost, and much more.
 

The Italians say “If you can’t live longer, live deeper.”

 
Yet the real reason to practice meditation is to discover your highest, truest self. You know – the part of you that lies underneath the confusion and endless thoughts . . . your pure limitless potential.
 

Why is Meditation So Important?

Like anything else in holistic wellness, you likely know what to do. Want a better body? Workout and eat a healthy diet. Want a healthier mind or less stress? Try therapy, take a walk in the woods, or meditate. There’s no lack in the information age of knowing what to do to make a positive change in our lives.
 
There’s also no limit of information on how to go about it. Self-help books, gyms, workshops, websites, yoga classes, and places to practice are unlimited. So, we can all agree we generally know what to do and how to do it (or we can at least figure it out easily).
 
What’s missing is a solid why. Why should we take time out of our busy day to meditate? Why not just sleep in and skip that morning session? Why not give into the thought I don’t have time to practice today?
 
There are tons of excuses we use to justify. “Maybe when the kids grow up, I’ll have more time to practice.” Or maybe, “If my job wasn’t so demanding, I’d have time to meditate.” Or the classic American badge of honor, “I’m just too busy.”
 
Having a compelling why is a crucial start to get – and stay – committed to a daily meditation practice.
 

Here are 5 reasons why it’s worth sitting in meditation today, and every day:

1. Start the Day Grounded and Conscious

Starting the morning with meditation is a wonderful addition to your regular routine. It is just as important as brushing your teeth – and just as appreciated by everyone you encounter throughout the day.
 
A calm, settled, clear, and intentional mindset will help you have better interactions with others and yourself, and it will also help you combat being reactive or impulsive in difficult or emotionally-charged situations.
 
 

2. Form Positive Habits and Strengthen Willpower

Without a daily meditation practice, it is much more likely that you will fall back into old habits that do not serve you and aren’t in alignment with your purpose and authenticity. Unconscious, repetitive thoughts can drastically affect your mental health.
 
A regular meditation practice will reinforce your willpower and help you form positive and productive new habits so you can let go of what no longer serves you.
 
 

3. Establish Loving and Healthy Relationships

Ever get triggered by something your spouse, child or co-worker says? Can you remember the last time you reacted versus responded to a challenging situation?
 
Daily meditation gives you the ability to pause when feeling triggered. You’ll be able to tune into that tightness in your chest, gut and jaw. You’ll feel the heat in your face when anger arises. Through mindfulness meditation, you will cultivate the ability to pause, breathe and respond skillfully versus react unconsciously.
 
 

4. Cultivate More Joy and Eradicate Stress

Ever hear of “Fight or Flight”? For thousands of years, we’ve survived using this tool. When presented with a life or death situation, your heart races, adrenaline and stress-hormones flood your body, and you either FIGHT or RUN. That same response is happening in modern times when you get a stressful email from your boss or experience road rage.
 
A daily meditation practice gives you the superpower of being able to better manage and recover from “flight or flight” response faster – taking you into the restorative “rest and digest” state more quickly and avoiding adrenal fatigue that many of us suffer from.
 
Interested in learning more about the Fight or Flight response and how to control it? Read What the Reptilian Brain is and How to Override Fight or Flight Response
 
 

5. Live with Passion + Renew Your Vigor for Life

Most of us have had a glimpse into our true nature. Maybe it was the moment you saw your child being born or kissing your dying mother goodbye. Perhaps it was a deep stillness on a hike in nature or gazing into a loved one’s eyes.
 
You know there’s so much more to your life than busy-ness. You can just feel it. Your mindfulness meditation practice helps you transcend that unceasing mind to uncover your true peaceful nature. Meditating every day – and hopefully “taking it off the cushion” – helps you live in this unlimited potential 24/7.
 
The Italians say “If you can’t live longer, live deeper.” With your daily meditation practice, you can live your life fully in the present without missing a moment.
 

Here’s What You Need For a Daily Meditation Practice:

  • Quiet Location: Choose a quiet space where no one will interfere with your practice. Use a cushion and create a sacred space by placing a few meaningful objects on a table in front of you (i.e. picture of someone who inspires you, a statue, candle, crystals, herbs, etc.)
  • Dedicated Time: You are encouraged to meditate whenever and as often as you can! Many find that first thing in the morning is the best time to meditate. After a trip to the restroom, get to your meditation cushion right away before your day gets going. You can also meditate in the middle of the day and before bed to quiet the mind and release built-up stress
  • Set Duration: Many want to know a specific length of time to sit in meditation each day. The correct amount of time is 24/7 because you bring your mindfulness practice into every moment of your life. But for starters, 10-20 minutes is perfect. Set a timer and place it behind you so you aren’t tempted to look at it during your meditation session

 
 

How to Find the Correct Posture for Meditation

  1. Sit on a cushion with your legs crossed and spine straight, shoulders stacked above hips. Use a chair if that’s more comfortable for you, but ensure that your spine is straight, don’t rest against the back of the chair, and keep your feet planted on the ground
  2. Rest your hands on your thighs or rest the back of one hand in the palm of the other and let your thumbs touch lightly
  3. Straighten your spine like a stack of golden coins
  4. Relax your shoulders down and away from your ears and allow the arms to relax down by your sides
  5. Gently tuck the chin and keep your lips slightly parted
  6. Gently close your eyes or keep them slightly open and gaze 
down about 3-4 feet in front of you

 

 

Start Meditating Now!

Follow along with Erik as he guides you through a relaxing and grounding mindfulness meditation in this video. Check out the steps below as a refresher, and keep coming back to the video as often as you’d like!
 
watch-the-video

 

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

  1. Sit straight and enjoy a few deep, full breaths (all breathing is done through nose)
  2. Let the breath return to normal and practice loving kindness for yourself and all beings by thinking May all beings be well, happy, peaceful and at ease
  3. Tune into the sensation of the breath in the body
  4. To help settle in, practice 4-3-5 breathing (breathe in for a count of 4. Hold for 3. Exhale for 5)
  5. Allow the breath to return to normal
  6. Do a body scan. While staying partially aware of your breath, bring your remaining awareness to your toes and slowly move up, tuning into each part of the body up through the crown of your head
  7. Return to simply being aware of the breath and feel it moving in and out of the body
  8. It’s normal to have thoughts that arise. Simply notice the thoughts, and note to yourself gently thinking, thinking or perhaps not now, not now and return to awareness of the breath
  9. Simply enjoy being with the breath and the body until your timer rings. Place your palms together in front of your chest, gently bow forward and think once more, May I and all beings be happy, peaceful and at ease

 

Make Mindfulness Meditation a Part of Your Daily Life

Forming a dedicated meditation practice is like giving your soul a hug every day. Practice compassion towards yourself as you get into a groove. Every day won’t be easy and it definitely won’t be the same.
 
With time and commitment, you’ll come to discover that you crave sitting in meditation. You’ll start to notice small changes in your mentality and approach to yourself and others. Mindfulness meditation is the gateway to presence, compassion, peace, and grounding. Dig in.
 

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Erik Vienneau

Erik Vienneau of AWAKE Mindful Living meets people where they are along the path of wellness to offer opportunities to discover a peaceful and health-filled life. When he's not on his cushion you'll find him being simple and easy with friends and family. He believes "Peaceful Minds Create a Peaceful Planet.”

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