Mindfulness meditation or Vipassana -- a beginner's guide

Pranayama needs you to be aware of your breathing and how it feels. This is known as mindfulness. It is the practice to make yourself aware of what you’re doing at the present moment. It makes you aware of your surroundings which, in turn, helps to improve overall health.

Want to be more calm, peaceful and excel at your daily chores? Try mindful meditation -- here are all the tips you's need to start the practice.

In January 2014, a study by John Hopkins University, Baltimore researchers gave evidence of what many of the Oriental cultures already knew since times immemorial mindfulness meditation can play a role in dealing with anxiety and depression.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

The Buddhist practice known as Vipassana is one of the oldest forms of meditation. In recent times, this method has become increasingly popular throughout the world under the name of Mindfulness Meditation. A non-sectarian practice, this meditation is easy to practice and can be learned by anyone with a desire for greater calm.

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According to the University of California Center for Mindfulness, mindfulness is being totally aware of one s thinking as well as all the other sensory experiences one has such as seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling and tasting. In simple words, it is to pay deep attention without being judgmental of all the things going on within oneself as well as in the outside world. As a result of such mindfulness, one learns to live more in the present without cribbing about the past or worrying over the future.

How to practice

Set up a special area of your room or an entire room for your meditation practice. Make sure you choose an area that allows you privacy and quiet. If you are so inclined, you could create an altar with objects of worship where you light a lamp of incense, although this is not absolutely necessary. Use a cushion if you are sitting on the floor or a comfortable chair with a flat and stable seat.

Sit upright in a position that is comfortable to you, and place your hands facing downwards, on your thighs. Keep your eyes comfortably open without staring and let your gaze rest gently on the floor in front. When you find your attention wandering away, bring it gently back towards your body and the space where you are sitting.

After a few minutes, gently bring your attention towards your breath, observing as it moves in and out of your body. Don t try to control your breath or direct it in a particular order, just watch it even as your focus remains on your body and the environment around you.

During all this time, you will realize that thoughts are constantly arising in your mind and there is no space at all between one thought and the next. Begin to observe these thoughts and if you find yourself getting carried away by them, gently draw your attention back towards your breath and the environment.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

As you begin to practice mindfulness meditation daily, you develop a lot of inner calm and the ability to witness the goings-on both within and in the outside world without reacting to them. Once the contribution of your mind s reaction to unpleasant situations subsides, it becomes easier to deal with them in an objective manner.

With regular practice of mindfulness meditation, you become more stable and aware of the need to interact with people around you in a deep, compassionate and healthy way.

Focusing constantly on the breath and the immediate environment teaches you to live in the present moment the Now without undue anxiety about the future. With regular practice, you are quite likely to find you don t get as stressed, scared or worried as you previously did.

While there are several forms of meditation, quite a few of them are directed towards making us different from what we basically are this is precisely the reason why many of us find it difficult to sustain practicing such meditation techniques.

When it comes to mindfulness meditation though, there is no such struggle to attain a goal that feels alien there is no effort to stop thinking and grow blank. All you need to do is cultivate a complete awareness of what you are in this particular moment, watching your thoughts as they flit in and out, even as you concentrate on the present. As you keep doing this type of meditation, you will find it easier to stay in the Now and invariably, your life will grow deeper and more meaningful and change for the better.


Study published in JAMA available at

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