Are you mindful of your mind? Unlike common misconceptions about mindfulness, this spiritual practice has little to do with turning your mind off.
According to Gelong Thubten, professional meditation teacher and trainer of Mindvalley’s Becoming More Loving Quest, mindfulness and meditation are about turning your brain ON to experience the moment on a deeper level rather than turning it OFF to escape reality.
On top of that, it can help you regulate your emotions, cultivate more compassion, and enrich your human experience.
If you want to start your mindfulness practice, here’s what you need to know:
- What Is Mindfulness?
- Why Is Mindfulness Important?
- The Main Benefits of Mindfulness
- 2 Myths About Mindfulness Dispelled
- What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
- How to Practice Mindfulness?
Most importantly, you can learn how to take it into your daily life and live like a monk without necessarily becoming one (only if you’d like to).
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being attuned to the internal and external environments coexisting around you.
It entails maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surroundings without judgment.
Mindfulness can also be perceived as:
- Listening deeper into your intuition and internal wisdom
- Observing the trees sway, the birds play, and the river effortlessly flows away from a neutral point of view
It requires a great deal of acceptance of your reality — internal and external — without alterations and labeling, just the way they are.
When you are mindful, you are present in your body and fully content within given conditions. So the cultivation of this heightened awareness becomes your platform for a deeper comprehension of your own human experience while still sharing commonalities with the world around you.
Why Is Mindfulness Important?
Practicing mindfulness takes you out of autopilot mode, enabling you to make decisions and take actions based on the current moment. Instead of reacting out of your habitual patterns of behavior, emotional responses, belief systems, and unresolved traumas, you respond to your environment from a place of neutrality.
Mindfulness helps you cultivate the ability to regulate your emotions, manage stress, and overcome anxiety and depression. Most importantly, unlike other practices, it does NOT become your coping mechanism to cope with unwanted situations, emotions, or thoughts. Rather, it allows you to become an observer of your inner and outer world, accepting them as they are from moment to moment.
The Main Benefits of Mindfulness
Many scientific studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness exercises may help you improve the quality of your life and better manage stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.
Let’s look at the main benefits of cultivating mindfulness:
1. Alleviate anxiety and depression
A 2019 study examined the effects of mindfulness on depression and anxiety in more than 12,000 participants. The researchers found that mindfulness-based approaches can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as it helps develop healthy emotional regulation.
2. Treat pain
Mindfulness is widely used to treat pain-related conditions, including chronic pain. When it comes to acute pain, there is no evidence that mindfulness can reduce it. However, it can improve your tolerance to it.
3. Improve sleep quality
A 2018 systematic review suggests that mindfulness meditation improves sleep quality more than education-based treatments. It can also help you treat insomnia and other aspects of sleep disturbance.
4. Manage weight and eating behaviors
A 2018 study has shown that meditation and mindfulness programs can help you lose weight and manage eating behaviors such as binge, emotional, and restrained eating. Mindfulness-based practices positively affect the mental and physical health of adults with obesity.
5. Treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to a 2017 review, mindfulness is an effective alternative method that may help reduce symptoms of PTSD. Study participants included veterans, nurses, and people who experienced violence — all reported a reduction of symptoms.
2 Myths About Mindfulness Dispelled
Gelong Thubten explains that there are two common myths of mindfulness that should be recognized:
Myth 1: Meditation is about escaping reality and turning off the mind
Meditation is about developing consciousness and awareness of the moment you are experiencing and becoming more engaged in it from moment to moment.
Myth 2: Meditation means to clear your mind or empty your mind of your thoughts
It’s impossible to empty your mind. What’s possible is focusing on the mind without altering anything about it. You are not trying to silence the mind — you are trying to understand it.
Applying these concepts to how you interpret the idea of meditation can immediately change your approach to a mindfulness meditation session. And limiting expectations of the desired outcome is crucial for progression through mindfulness practices.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Meditation isn’t a passive experience as it’s commonly thought to be. Even when you do nothing physically, your mind is still active. When you practice mindfulness meditation, you are actively observing your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
When learning how to practice mindfulness, it is crucial to recognize two major concepts:
1. Every single moment in life is a proper moment for mindfulness meditation
Although routines may help you create mindful habits more efficiently, they are not necessary for the path toward mindfulness. Because the goal of this practice is to take your meditation into your day:
- Listening to the environment while stuck in traffic.
- Paying attention to your body and breath while in the office or positioning your posture for better alignment.
- Being mindful of the movement of your hands while you brush your teeth or do dishes.
Whatever you do throughout the day, you want to be mindful of it and fully present with the task in front of you. The more you extend these moments of mindfulness, the more mindful your life will be.
2. Begin listening, feeling, absorbing, acknowledging, comprehending, learning, or observing anything you possibly can at any moment
It sounds simple, but becoming a silent observer of your environment is not that easy. The more you practice slowing down and noticing your attention, intention, and perception in the moment of the now, the more natural it will become.
When you begin to look at mindfulness meditation as an opportunity to go deep and process information, you expand the doors of your perception and step into a greater understanding of yourself and the world around you.
Gelong Thubten believes that you can take it to the next level by practicing compassion-based mindfulness. He says, “When you do so, you activate the motor cortex, connected to the intention to act. So it leads us to actions that will benefit you and others. You also activate the wisdom through which you can help others.”
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before, During, and After Meditation
Ask these questions before, during, or after meditation:
- How will you choose to perceive this moment?
- How else could you perceive this moment?
- Which option would lead to a better perception of life as a whole?
- Which option would lead to a better understanding of the world as a whole?
- Where could these thoughts be coming from? Memories? Expectations? Love? Fear? Or are they being influenced by an outside source?
You can start asking these questions right now as you practice this mindful meditation:
How to Practice Mindfulness?
Before getting started, you want to set a clear intention to continue building compassion, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, joy, and wisdom.
Here are some meditations to start building your mindfulness practice:
Compassion and forgiveness meditation
How to do it:
- Set an intention on the growth of compassion and benefit for others.
- Think about people and their pain and suffering to obtain a different perspective.
- Consciously develop empathy for others and the willingness to help them. Intend to build a habit of wishing well to all sentient beings.
- Throughout the day, think about how you can benefit others or forgive others, actively putting your mind in a compassionate state so that it can become a habit.
- Use mantra: “I am doing this to bring more peace to my mind and more peace to the world.”
Love and kindness meditation
How to do it:
- Wish for the people around you to be happy, to experience happiness and pleasure to their utmost levels.
- Start feeling genuinely happy for someone close to you, expanding this feeling to strangers and people you have a problem with. This will help activate the habit and deepen your love and kindness.
- Extend your wish upon the entire planet, world, and other living beings.
How to do it:
- Put yourself in another person’s shoes, and feel how they feel for better understanding to build compassion.
You don’t have to push forgiveness, you have to change your perspective, and forgiveness will naturally arise.— Gelong Thubten, trainer of Mindvalley’s Becoming More Loving Quest
How to do it:
- Express daily moments of gratitude.
- Look at the world around you and express how fortunate you are, even for the difficulties, as they help you become better.
Genuine joy is when your mind experiences peace from within.— Gelong Thubten, trainer of Mindvalley’s Becoming More Loving Quest
Remind yourself that:
- Wisdom comes when you listen to your heart instead of your head.
- Meditation helps you start to listen to the deeper part of your mind, your intuition, or the “deep knowing.” If you come from that place of perception, you make wise choices and have a wiser outlook on reality and your relationships.
- Intuition is building a deep trust with your internal wisdom, your own inner voice.
- We all want to be happy and free of suffering.
- Intuition becomes internal wisdom.
- Wisdom is intuition. Wisdom is insight, a piece of deep knowledge about reality, and then making choices from that deeper place within you.
- We can build compassion and understanding by simply switching our perception to another point of view.
You can also check these mindfulness meditation techniques to create your bespoke practice.
Let Your Journey of Mindfulness Begin
You can start your mindfulness journey by simply slowing down at least once a day:
- Sit up and ground yourself.
- Notice your breath.
- Focus on your bodily sensations and be present with whatever occurs.
Getting out of your head into your body for even a moment will build a mindfulness habit.
This journey requires patience, pattern recognition, pushing through barriers, and acknowledgment of where your foundation truly is. Build from an honest foundation, put in the patience, and implement mindful moments throughout your day. With this, you will be well on your way to a deeper appreciation for the beautiful world around you.
And if you want to go deeper into your personal growth and expansion, Mindvalley is the right place to be. Unlock your free Mindvalley access today and enjoy sample classes of all our Quests.
You can start by exploring these mindfulness Quests:
- Becoming More Loving by Gelong Thubten
- Unlocking Transcendence by Jeffrey Allen
- A Yogi’s Guide to Joy by Sadhguru
With spiritual teachers and meditation experts like Gelong Thubten, Jeffrey Allen, Sadhguru, Emily Fletcher, and many others, you can start living your life from your authentic self with more compassion for yourself and others.