Thich Nhat Hanh
“Freedom is not given to us by anyone we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice...no one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out. ”-Thich Nhat Hanh
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Mindful Practice Recommendations & Considerations

 

General Recommendations and Considerations

Yoga Recommendations and Considerations

Breathing Techniques Recommendations and Considerations

Meditation Recommendations and Considerations

 


 

General Recommendations and Considerations

Set an intention for your Daily Mindful Practice - maybe you want to feel more peaceful or find some relief from a difficult time you're going through.  Ask yourself, what do you want to create for the day?

Try to perform your practice at same time each day or evening.  Schedule your practice as you would any other event in your life.

Practice in a cool, quiet location with minimal distractions if possible.  Dim the lights and turn off the cell phone. If possible, use this same location every session.

Keep a journal of your experiences with the practice. Following the Daily Mindful Practice you become the observer or watcher of your thoughts and emotions, which makes it the optimal time to record your experience in a journal.  Learn More about the importance of keeping a journal...

 

How long will it take to perform a Daily Mindful Practice?

The length of times varies depending on the person and how time they have or want to devote to their practice.  A practice can range from a few minutes or longer.  Consider the following scenarios:

  • Yoga (90 minutes)
  • Yoga (20 min) + breathing techniques (5 min) + meditation (5 min) = 30 minutes
  • Breathing techniques (5 min) + meditation (10 min) = 15 minutes
  • Meditation (5 minutes)
  • Breathing techniques (3 minutes)

 

Yoga Recommendations and Considerations

Before you Begin:

  • Wear comfortable clothes that are preferably tight fitting.  Loose shirts or pants tend get in the way during a yoga practice.
  • Yoga mats or folded blankets reduce discomfort during yoga poses
  • Assess your fitness level to determine if you are able to practice yoga safely. Consult your doctor if necessary.

How to Practice Yoga:

  • Set an intention for your yoga practice.  Maybe you want to feel more peaceful or find some relief from a difficult time you're going through.  Ask yourself, what do I want to create for the day?
  • Practice at your own pace and listen to your body.  Nobody knows your body like you do.
  • If you experience dizziness at any point during the yoga practice stop the exercise.
  • If pain develops during a yoga routine, stop and rest.

Tips and Considerations:

  • If you have not practiced yoga before Mindful Body recommends that you attend a yoga class or private session if possible.
  • Explore videos and DVDs by leaders in the field of yoga. Our top choice for beginners is Yoga Journal's The Complete Beginner's Guide.
  • Learn from a master.  Taking a yoga class is hands down your best bet. There is a relationship of feedback in the classroom that is extremely valuable.

 

Breathing Technique Recommendations and Considerations

  • Set an intention for your breathing practice.  Maybe you want to feel more peaceful or find some relief from a difficult time you're going through.  Ask yourself, what do I want to create for the day?
  • Don't be in a hurry when you practice breathing techniques. Relax your body, focus on your breathing and take your time in order to receive the full benefits
  • Be aware of hyperventilating, and build your capacity slowly
  • Stop if you feel dizzy or lightheaded while practicing deep breathing
  • Beginners should practice basic deep breathing for a few minutes each day before moving on to advanced breathing techniques
  • It is best to practice breathing techniques on an empty stomach or before eating
  • You may feel pulsations of energy or experience deep emotion. Do not feel frightened, these are reactions are considered normal.  Breathing techniques create a lot of energy in the body.

Bellows Breath (Bhastrika)

  • Do not practice Bellow Breath (Bhastrika) if you are pregnant; have high blood pressure; have poor lungs capacity; suffer from a hernia
  • Do not practice Bellows Breath close to bedtime, as it may invigorate your mind and make it difficult to fall asleep

 

Meditation Recommendations and Considerations

Before you Begin

  • Choose a quiet location free from distractions, dim the lights and turn off the cell phone. If possible, use this same location every session
  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing and take off your shoes if possible
  • Determine whether you'd like to have meditation music in the background
  • Determine if you want to use a timer of some sort, preferably one with a soft and peaceful tone/signal.
  • Review the Daily Mindful Practice instruction sheet

How to Meditate

  • Set an intention for your meditation practice.  Maybe you want to feel more peaceful or find some relief from a difficult time you're going through.  Ask yourself, what do I want to create for the day?
  • Take a moment to assess where you are physically, mentally and emotionally
  • Sit with your back straight, legs crossed, and place a pillow underneath your buttocks so that your hips are elevated. Use extra pillows to support your knees and back.  It is also helpful to sit against a wall for extra back support.  If you are unable to cross your legs, it is okay. Alternatively, you can sit upright in a chair. Remember not to put any kind of pressure on yourself for getting it right, you can't go wrong here... just relax and observe, that's all
  • Set the timer, place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up, gently close your eyes and focus your attention between your eyebrows
  • Slowly breathe in, allowing your rib cage and belly to expand as you inhale and then slowly breathe out, allowing your abdomen to contract as you exhale
  • Focus on your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of the abdomen on each inhalation and exhalation
  • You'll find your mind will tend to wander. That's okay. When it does, just gently bring your attention back to your breath
  • Allow thoughts and feelings to enter your mind. Acknowledge them, see them as clouds that float by in the sky, allow them to pass, and refocus your attention on your breath
  • You may or may not have thoughts, the key is to not be identified with the thoughts that arise. Be the "observer" or the "watcher" of your passing thoughts and emotions
  • As your meditation comes to a close, gently begin to wiggle the toes and circle the wrists to help awaken the body
  • When you are ready gently open your eyes.  Be sure to take your time coming out of meditation

Tips and Considerations

  • Start small and ease into it - Developing a new habit takes time and patience.  In the beginning it is best to start with a short 5-minute meditation. Add one minute every one to two days until you can meditate at least 15-20 minutes. The more you practice, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes.
  • Make it routine - Build it into your schedule so that it's automatic (like brushing your teeth, showering, etc.). Try to perform your meditation at the same time every day.  However, if you are unable to perform your meditation at the same time each day, it is still better to do vs. not do it.
  • Explore your options - there are many forms and variations of meditation (TM, mindfulness, guided, music, etc.), so if one particular form doesn't work for you, try another. Choose one or more Mindful Body Meditation Practices that you would like to explore further.  Design your own customized meditation practice.
  • Try not to eat a big meal within an hour prior to meditating because a full stomach has the tendency to repress the relaxation of mind and body
  • Don't try to get it right, or have any expectations - meditation isn't something you actually do or accomplish, it's the state of non-doing (our natural state).  Don't try to get it right, or have any expectations. What happens during your session - sleep, mind wandering, insight, deep relaxation, etc. - is exactly what was supposed to happen. Just allow and let go.  When thoughts enter your mind, be mindful of them and acknowledge they're there. Then, gently return your awareness to your breath or mantra.
  • Quieting your thoughts and mind - even the most experienced meditators experience floods of thoughts.  When thoughts arise, gently invite your mind to return to the breath. As you begin to notice how busy your mind is, you will learn to be able to stand back and not take your thoughts so seriously, and will start to develop more kindness and compassion to yourself.
    • As thoughts come, think of them as clouds that float away in the sky. Don't try to resist them, simple notice them and bring your attention back to your breath. It's important to understand that is perfectly normal to have thoughts, lots of thoughts.  In fact you may find that your mind has become completely absorbed in thought. It's a natural part of meditation. The mind may get caught up in a "story" about what is happening in our life, or even what is happening in meditation.  Let go of the meaning of thoughts. See your thoughts as separate from you as if they are just passing through.  See them as clouds that drift past in the sky.
    • Imagine your mind as a monkey, hence the term "monkey mind."  Or better yet, a baby monkey that is so curious it keeps jumping from one thought to the next at a chaotic pace.  If we try to train the little monkey by beating it up, it will become more disobedient, inflexible and neurotic.  However, if we train the little monkey with kindness and discipline, the little monkey will learn confidence and trust.  Practice treating yourself with kindness and compassion, let go of judgment.