Whether it’s the piled up laundry upstairs, an email your boss sent you or just general stress, it can be hard to keep a clear head. And if these thoughts are still swirling around your head at bedtime, it’ll also be tough to get a good night’s sleep.
This is where mindfulness meditation can help. A type of mental training, this practice hones in on the sensations of breathing, parts of the body and bringing attention back whenever the mind starts to drift.
By focusing on ‘the now,’ you can use this to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity and calm both your mind and body. In fact, regular mindfulness meditation has heaps of benefits which include improving attention spans1, reducing stress2 and increasing sleep quality3.
Getting into the habit of practicing mindfulness meditation may be a little daunting to start with, but with our few simple tips and tricks, this time with ‘the now’ will soon become second nature.
- Make the time: It may seem a little obvious, but setting an alarm in the morning or putting a few minutes aside before bedtime are great ways to make the time for mindfulness meditation. It’s pretty easy to lose track of time too, so ensure you’re choosing your time frame and sticking to it.
- Set up the space: Finding a good spot in your home is a great way to detach from whatever you were doing and focus solely on your meditation. This place should be quiet, free from clutter and with little distraction. It’s also handy to wear loose clothing to keep comfy too.
- Don’t forget to breathe: When practicing your mindfulness meditation, it’s important to be aware of your breathing. Feel your ribs rise and fall and the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to how these change and ensure you’re attuned to the sensation.
- Focus on the right now: Contrary to belief, mindfulness isn’t about quieting the mind; instead you should be paying attention to the present moment without any judgement. Megan Monahan, author of “Don’t Hate, Meditate!” once said “The goal is not to stop your thoughts but to get more comfortable resting in "witnessing" the thoughts”4. So when your mind gets carried away, don’t punish yourself, instead return it gently back to the present.
- Use an app: If you’re having trouble getting into the mindfulness meditation groove on your own, you could opt for an app such as Calm or Headspace who offer a variety of tips for getting centered during the day.
While it’s often said that mindfulness meditation is very simple, it can take a little time to master. Be kind to yourself, stick with it and you’ll soon start to see the positive results that this practice can have on your outlook, your thoughts and your sleep!
1Source: Fadel Zeidan, ‘Mindfulness Meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training,’ ScienceDirect, 06/2010.
2Source: Andy Fell, ‘Mindfulness from meditation associated with lower stress hormone,’ UCDavis, 27/03/2010.
3Source: David S. Black PhD, “Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances,” Jama Network, 01/04/2015.
4Source: Monahan M, “Don't Hate, Meditate!” New York: Ten Speed Press; 2019.