Chicago Health | Homepage
Get Started on Mindfulness Meditation Today

Get Started on Mindfulness Meditation Today

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts

By Howard LeWine, M.D.

Q: I have been hearing a lot more about mindfulness recently. Given my hectic life, it sounds like I might benefit. But I am not sure how to start. Any suggestions?

A: Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment — and accepting it without judgment.

Mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to get started. In mindfulness meditation, you learn to establish concentration. You observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad. The challenge is to avoid latching on to a particular idea, emotion or sensation, or getting caught in thinking about the past or the future.

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment.

Here is a simple mindfulness meditation exercise you can try on your own.

1. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.

2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.

3. Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations and ideas.

4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

The benefits of mindfulness meditation tend to be related to the duration and frequency of your practice — the more you do, the greater the effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start.

Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself. If your mind wanders into planning, daydreaming or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.

If you miss your intended meditation session, you simply start again. With mindfulness practice during your meditation sessions, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.

(Howard LeWine, M.D., is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2016 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Floating Toward Mindfulness

Floating Toward Mindfulness

Finding tranquility in a salt water tank Photo courtesy of Float Sixty By Laura Drucker Mindfulness. The practice

Camp Courage Comforts Children Who Have Lost Loved Ones

Camp Courage Comforts Children Who Have Lost Loved Ones

By Nancy Maes Joanna Bodigor was only six years old in the spring of 2000 when

Second City Improv Class Helps Those with Social Anxiety

Second City Improv Class Helps Those with Social Anxiety

The Second City Training Center. Photo by Kirsten Miccoli By Nancy MaesKat Bovbjerg recognized that she

Not So Criminally Insane

Not So Criminally Insane

Cook County Jail leads the nation in better treatment of mentally ill inmates By Tom Mullaney America

Count ingredients, not calories

Count ingredients, not calories

By Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. Shift your focus from the calories label to the ingredients label, and

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

December 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
November 27, 2016 November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016
December 4, 2016 December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016 December 10, 2016
December 11, 2016 December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016
December 18, 2016 December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives