With so much going on in modern life, we often find ourselves everywhere but the present moment swept away by thoughts of the past and future. Its natural for our minds to wander, but living like this all day, every day, makes it hard to enjoy the beauty of the present. I know I often find myself thinking about what I’m going to eat for dinner during classes, or dwelling over what a friend said to me during yoga. At Haiku Designs, we believe that focus on peace of mind is an important part of the Zen Modern Lifestyle, so we want to help you practice one of the best methods of accessing this: mindfulness.
By this point, you’ve probably heard about mindfulness. But what exactly is mindfulness? To start, there are lots of definitions of mindfulness and many ways to practice it, but it's essentially a state of being present in your current moment. It's recognizing your thoughts and feelings and acknowledging them, without any judgment. The goal of mindfulness is not to control our thoughts, but to recognize them, no matter what they may be. It's a great way to focus on your present self, without dwelling on the past or the future, and identify any emotions that you may be feeling. It allows you to truly be in the present and fully experiencing what is happening in that current moment. And the best part: everyone is capable of mindfulness. Kids, adults, young, old, anyone. It can be trained through a variety of meditation techniques so that you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life.
Since anyone can practice mindfulness, anyone can reap its vast benefits. Mindfulness is proven to boost memory, help with focus, and make your brain more flexible. It can even help your relations with others, as it can improve your ability to genuinely listen and express exactly what you are feeling. Studies have shown that mindfulness can even make physical changes, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, and improving sleep. For me, mindfulness has helped improve my concentration while working or listening, because it has taught me to concentrate on my present moment without those worries of the future and the past. After hearing about the benefits of mindfulness to both your mind and body, I bet you're wondering: how do I start?
Just like exercising your body, you have to regularly exercise your mind to reap the benefits. The best way to practice mindfulness is through meditation so that you can consciously learn to bring your brain to the present when you find your thoughts wandering. To help you situate yourself during meditation, Haiku Designs offers an array of meditation furniture to help you get comfortable, such as mats, cushions, and chairs.
1. First, you have to find the time and space to practice. The space should be quiet, soothing, and comfortable. It's best if you have a space in your house reserved for meditation, so that way when you sit down your body knows it time to meditate. You can sit in whatever position is most comfortable to you, such as crossing your legs, upright in a chair, or even laying down. Meditation cushions and mats can help you be more comfortable and with your posture during meditation as well. Personally, I like to sit cross-legged on a Silk Zafu Meditation Cushion because it's comfortable to sit on, and my room is the most personal space in my house.
2. Once you’ve taken your seat, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. You don’t have to do any special deep breathing, the important part is focusing on your breaths in the current moment, and how each breath feels as you breathe in and out.
3. Focus on what you’re experiencing. The feeling of your legs on the chair. Any sounds you may hear. Whatever is happening in your present, recognize it.
4. The hardest part of mindfulness is getting distracted. After a few minutes, your mind will probably begin to wander again. This is very normal, and don’t feel bad or get frustrated when this happens. Just take note of what thoughts keep coming up and how you’re feeling about them, as you gently redirect your mind to the present. Mindfulness is a skill that can improve with time, it all just takes practice.
The most important part of practicing mindfulness is practice. The more you practice, the more you will gain from mindfulness. It is recommended to practice for 20 minutes per day, 5 days per week to gain all that mindfulness has to offer. The ultimate goal, though, is to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. You can be mindful at any moment, it just takes a little practice.
Jovanna, Haiku Designs Staff
Update 12/14/2023: Check out my newest Haiku Designs Living Mindfully Blog post, Mindful Wellness: The Art of Meditative Living, hope you enjoy it! -Emiko Tanaka