Are you looking for a way to feel better mentally and physically? Would you like to have less stress and anxiety and more energy? Before reaching for a pill, you might want to try mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of sitting quietly and staying present with your thoughts, feelings and body sensations.  Instead of reacting to your thoughts, labeling them as good or bad or fighting certain thoughts or feelings, you accept them as they come without judgement. Your thoughts will always be present but how you choose to react to them can change. For instance, you can choose not to follow your negative thoughts.

Mindfulness has been shown in scientific studies to decrease stress and anxiety while increasing well-being and feelings of happiness. Mindfulness has also been linked to better sleep, increased immune function and improved concentration. With regular practice, mindfulness meditation has been shown to change the way our brains respond to emotional stimuli even when we’re not meditating.

How to practice mindfulness meditation in four steps:

  1. Sit up straight in a comfortable position or your favorite chair
  2. Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing or a chosen word or mantra
  3. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgement
  4. Continue to turn focus back to breath or mantra

Other tips

  • You can practice mindfulness during your daily life by doing your best to stay fully present as you go about your routine. Stay more in the moment during your day by making an effort to remain focused on your surroundings, the experience of your senses or the task at hand. For instance, if you’re taking a walk, smell the fresh air. Notice the flowers and the leaves on the trees. Hear the sounds of birds singing and feel the breeze on your skin. Staying in the present moment instead of thinking about something that happened at work or worrying about an event in the future will help you build your mindfulness muscles.
  • Start a mindfulness meditation practice on your own. Try to set aside five minutes a day and gradually building up to a time that works for you, whether that’s 15 or 30 minutes.
  • Take a mindfulness meditation class. Mindfulness training with an experienced practitioner can help you see results fast and stay with your practice. The Hartford Mindfulness Center offers a Mindfulness After Work class on Wednesdays. Class starts up again Wednesday, September 7. Register here.