21 Top Tips on Practicing Mindfulness for Beginners
Our busy lives and hectic schedules can make it difficult to live in the present. We’re often so wrapped up with something that just happened or what we’ve got coming up that we can’t concentrate on how we’re feeling at this precise moment.
That is what practicing mindfulness helps us do - focus on the here and now. When approached correctly and regularly, it can provide incredible benefits to our mental health, with research highlighting its potential to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and more.
And, it doesn’t require any special equipment; you can practice mindfulness at a time and place that suits you.
But, it does require practice. Part of the reason mindfulness is still a burgeoning trend is due to people trying it a couple of times, dropping it, and claiming it did nothing for them. To experience the benefits of practicing mindfulness, you need to be persistent.
Whether you are brand new to this, or are picking it back up after a long absence, our 21 tips on practicing mindfulness for beginners will help you stick to this process and see the benefits it has on your overall wellbeing.
How to Practice Mindfulness - 21 Top Tips
1. Find a quiet place to concentrate
Firstly, practicing mindfulness is all about focus, and initially that can be tricky in a crowded or busy setting. Choose a time and place to practice mindfulness that is quiet and won’t lead to interruptions, as this will help keep your mind on your breathing, your thoughts and the moment. With time, you’ll find yourself able to practice mindfulness at work, while travelling, and other times throughout the day.
2. Practice in a comfortable position
Some people like to sit in a chair while practicing mindfulness. Others kneel, sit in the lotus position, or lie down. How you position yourself is up to you, but it is important that it’s a position you feel comfortable in for the duration, so you’re not unnecessarily distracted.
3. Always return to your breathing
While practicing mindfulness, your mind will deviate to past and future thoughts. Fortunately, this is not an exercise for quieting the mind, but to pay attention to the present. To do this, whenever you find that attention broken, return to your breathing - that is our anchor to the current moment.
4. Set a time limit
If you’re a beginner, it can be helpful to build up gradually with a time limit. Start practicing mindfulness with a 5-minute interval for a little while, before steadily increasing as you become more comfortable with the process. Diving in the deep end too soon could reduce your motivation to continue this long-term.
5. Create a schedule
Alongside these time limits, it’s valuable to create a schedule. Practicing mindfulness daily is crucial to seeing the benefits. Sticking to a schedule or routine will help ensure you don’t take an extended break from these exercises, and compels you to make them a priority in your everyday life.
6. Make mindfulness practice part of your morning routine
A great time for mindfulness meditation techniques is right at the start of the day. Simply close your eyes for 2-3 minutes in bed, and notice how your body is feeling. This can be great for clearing your mind and improving your focus for the day ahead. It’s also good at the end of the day too, with practicing mindfulness sometimes leading to a 33% improvement in sleep quality.
7. Make a note of when your mind wanders
The mind will always wander as you’re practicing mindfulness - our attention spans can only take so much. However, when it happens just make a mental note of what distracted you, acknowledge it, and return to your breathing. Don’t feel pressured to rush this either - take your time to get back to the present.
8. Don’t punish yourself for losing focus
As discussed, your mind will wander, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. We have thousands of thoughts every single day! Obsessing over your thoughts or beating yourself up for messing up your mindfulness practice can be a slippery slope to giving up on this altogether. Instead, don’t judge yourself for allowing your thoughts to drift - you’re only human.
9. Download apps to help you concentrate
If you are finding it hard to start practicing mindfulness alone, there are a wide variety of apps available to support effective meditation and concentration. These might offer a solution to keep your mind engaged during your sessions.
10. Take an introductory course
If you would like to learn more about the ways to practice mindfulness or why this process is effective, taking an introductory course, like our free online version, can help you understand these techniques and allow you to achieve the benefits.
11. Listen to music while you practice mindfulness
Another helpful support while practicing mindfulness can be to listen to music. Try selecting a piece of music you’ve never heard before (preferably without lyrics), and allow yourself to be lost in the melody. This is additionally effective as, if your mind does begin to wander, you can use the music to help you return to the present.
12. Concentrate on an object
Similar to the music, focusing on a particular object can also improve your focus while you practice mindfulness. This could be a picture on your wall, a pen on your office desk, or a leaf during a walk outside - when distractions become an issue, you can always shift focus back onto this item.
13. Drown out all distractions
Alternatively, elements like apps, music or objects might not be for you. Instead, it can be effective to remove any and all distractions to improve your focus. Whether it’s shutting off your emails when practicing mindfulness in the workplace, or switching off your phone for 5-10 minutes in bed, dedicate this time to your present feelings.
14. Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation techniques can be an incredible way to reduce stress and provide focus. To attempt this, simply sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and observe your wandering thoughts. These should be noted without any judgement or reaction - this allows you to stay in the present and not overthink anything.
15. Incorporate it into routine tasks
The great thing about practicing mindfulness is that over time you can apply it to every aspect of your everyday life. It is particularly effective on routine or monotonous tasks, as instead of letting the mind travel too far or endure boredom, you are truly feeling what you’re doing at that moment. Plus, as you have to do these things anyway, you might as well do them mindfully! Try it while:
- Doing housework
- Eating a meal
- Having a shower
- Preparing for bed
16. Practice mindfulness while exercising
Working out can be a boring process, despite the undoubted benefits exercise has on mental health. But, instead of thinking about anything else, try approaching it mindfully. Take it slow and concentrate on everything you’re doing and, as always, allow yourself to come back to your breathing. Practicing mindfulness can be especially effective during yoga.
17. Apply it in the great outdoors
The physical and visual sensations that nature can offer us provides a powerful gateway back to the present. Identify a location where distractions will be minimal and allow yourself to focus on nothing but your surroundings.
18. Practice mindfulness in the workplace
Work can be a stressful environment even at the best of times. Taking a few minutes everyday to practice mindfulness can maintain your concentration, boost your mood and increase performance. After Transport for London began offering these courses for their employees, this led to a 71% reduction in days off for stress, anxiety and depression.
19. Practice with a friend
It is always a helpful motivator to have someone alongside you, and practicing mindfulness is no different. Encourage a friend to get involved, so you can bounce your experiences off each other and make sure you both continue to apply it.
20. Approach it little and often
Diving headfirst into practicing mindfulness can be a quick path to missing out on the benefits. Instead of blocking out an hour a day to do this (which can be tricky to stick to in our busy schedules), instead devote a few minutes at a time each day to practice, with maybe one 20-minute session included at the start or end of the day.
21. Don’t expect too much too soon
Finally, it is important you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to see results when you start practicing mindfulness. It takes time and regularity to start noticing the positive effects it is having, so it is crucial you are patient. Over time, sticking to a routine and incorporating this into your day-to-day life will likely make a big difference.
How often should you practice mindfulness?
As mentioned, dedicating 30 minutes to an hour a day to practicing mindfulness exercises has demonstrated tangible support for reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. But, especially for beginners, it can be beneficial to break this down into short sessions, maybe even a few minutes at a time.
At the end of the day, how often you practice mindfulness is down to you. Approaching it regularly will naturally reap the most benefits, but the best way to ensure that you stick with this is to find a way to include it in your existing routines.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?
Benefits of regularly practicing mindfulness can include (but aren’t limited to):
- Reduced anxiety
- Alleviated stress
- Reduced depression
- Boosted memory and concentration
- Better understanding of thoughts and feelings
- Improved performance at work
- Better sleeping patterns
- Increased creativity
- More positive relationships
How do I start practicing mindfulness?
Hopefully these tips will give you a strong starting point in practicing mindfulness. As a beginner, it will take time to become accustomed to this process and make it part of your daily life. Applying these tips will make it more likely you stick with it and begin to see real benefits, whether you’re practicing mindfulness at home, at work, at school or at anytime during the day.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and how to begin practicing, our online course teaches a range of practical exercises to help you notice your thoughts and live in the present.
Try it today, or contact us to speak to a member of our team.