As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we should take the time to acknowledge and honor ourselves with a practice that heals, calms, and promotes our wellbeing.
Mindfulness enables us to settle the mind and fully connect with the present moment, which opens us to our moment-to-moment experiences. As you meditate, you reduce anxiety, depression and stress — ushering in peace, balance, deep healing, focus, perspective and spiritual growth.
Real self-love begins with creating an intimate relationship with ourselves. Mindfulness clears a path to deeply loving and caring for all aspects of who we are — our bodies, our emotions and our thoughts. We are able to offer awareness and gentleness to what we consider to be our “good” and “bad” qualities as well as the issues we may face in life.
While we do not celebrate the “negatives,” we can acknowledge that our experiences may be woven into our emotional tapestry. The beautiful gift that mindfulness meditation gives us is the ability to have an unobstructed view into the nature of our challenges, which goes far beyond the stories we tell ourselves.
Mindfulness provides us with the spaciousness to accept ourselves completely with awareness, equanimity, and a deep sense of warmth and love. It offers us room to recognize painful emotions that may move through us, with the understanding that although they are present, we do not need to be held hostage by them. They do not define us.
As you begin to build a mindfulness practice, you’ll discover there are many ways to work through mental and emotional states with meditation. However, there are fundamental practices for beginners that will help build a foundation.
How to Practice Core Breathing Meditation
The most basic form of mindfulness meditation begins with the breath. Breathing Meditation can be accessible to you anytime and anywhere, whether you’re sitting on a chair, meditation cushion, lying down, or standing in line at the grocery store. It can help you relax and feel grounded in as few as two-minutes during a busy day. To really reap the benefits, you’ll want to build a practice of meditating at least 15- 20 minutes per day.
To start, follow these simple steps:
Based on what is most appropriate, you can close your eyes or simply lower your gaze.
Take two deep breaths, and then allow the natural rhythm of your breath to flow.
Notice where you feel your breath most vibrantly. Bring all of your attention to where you feel your breath moving in and out. This could be your abdomen, chest, nostrils…
As your attention wanders (and it will), gently usher it back to the breath. Keep repeating this step until you close your practice.
Practicing Mindfulness to Expand Self-Love
Lovingkindness Meditation is a beautiful way to help us turn our hearts and minds toward a sense of kindness and compassion for ourselves. As you engage in this practice, you may feel an overwhelming sense of love, appreciation and care toward yourself.
However, there may be times when you discover that you aren’t really feeling it or that you’re unable to connect with the words. That’s okay… At times, expressions of self-love can feel quite alien, even disorienting. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of your desire for happiness. It’s your birthright!
Regardless of how you receive this mediation, continue to practice and allow whatever comes up for you to be present and free of self-judgement. You’re planting a seed for this radical act of self-love to bloom within you.
To start, follow these steps:
Take a seat and find a comfortable posture. Gently close your eyes or lower your gaze. As you breathe in and out, invite a softness to your practice. It may be helpful to place your hand on your heart.
Recognize your desire to be happy. There is no reason to explore stories about what might make you happy. Just invite happiness, comfort and ease for yourself, as you would for someone you love. Try saying to yourself, “Yes, I want to be happy.”
Be intentional as you begin offering yourself beautiful words of loving kindness. Slowly repeat these phrases in your head. Even if you don’t fully feel these phrases, connect with their intention:
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be safe
May I be at ease
Breathe in and out, allowing these words to penetrate your heart space. Rest all of your awareness on these words deepening your intention each time you repeat them.
When the mind wanders, gently come back to the phrases. Notice any feelings, thoughts or resistance to self-care. Offer yourself compassion and tenderly quiet any self-judgments.
Repeat for as long as you feel comfortable. Try to spend at least 10 minutes growing in love and celebrating yourself in this way.