Mindfulness means to deliberately pay attention to your experience in the present moment (your physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions) with kindness and curiosity. In this modern, fast-paced life, we tend to operate on “automatic pilot” a lot of the time. Our minds are often disconnected from our bodies, and rather than bringing attention to our present moment experience, we get lost in thought – thinking and worrying about things that have already happened; or planning, thinking, and worrying about what may happen later. When we operate like this, we miss out on many of the moments of our lives. Additionally, not only do a lot of our routine tasks become automatic, even our emotional responses become automatic and habitual. We end up not having the presence of mind to respond thoughtfully and carefully to situations, and when we think about them later on, we may regret our instant “knee jerk” reactions. Mindfulness practice strengthens our ability to be more fully present in our lives, and to become aware of our experiences in difficult moments so that we may have a choice in how to respond to them.
You can try these guided mindfulness meditation practices below on your own. The Body Scan Meditation and Breathing Meditation practices can help you develop a greater awareness of your body and breath, and the Loving Kindness Meditation practice can help cultivate positive emotions, such as kindness and tenderness, towards yourself and others. If you are interested in more in-depth learning, Mindful Hearts offers a variety of mindfulness classes and workshops.
The Body Scan Meditation
You can complete this practice either seated or lying down. The guidance assumes you are lying down, but it is also okay to be seated in a comfortable, but alert position. If you are lying down, it is best to do so on a firm surface. A bed is okay as well, as long as it is not too soft.
For this practice, it is best to be seated. You can sit in a chair, letting your back be upright, but not stiff. It is best to sit with your both your feet flat on the floor. If you require back rest, you can place a few cushions behind your back to be more comfortable.
Loving Kindness Practice
This practice can be done either seated or lying down.
Maheen Mohammed is a school psychologist with over 10 years experience working with children, adolescents, parents, and school staff in Canada and Pakistan. Having felt the profound impact of mindfulness as a support in her own personal life, Maheen was inspired to integrate mindfulness into her work with schools, and to pursue training in this field. She has been teaching mindfulness to children and adults since 2012, and is passionate about empowering people to use mindfulness to manage stress and anxiety, cope with difficult emotions, and deal with chronic pain and illness. Maheen is a Certified Mindful Schools Instructor (Mindful Schools, CA, USA) and an accredited Breathworks Mindfulness Teacher (Breathworks Mindfulness, UK). More information about mindfulness classes and workshops taught by Maheen can be found here.