Here are eight popular mindfulness techniques, according to Headspace. You’ll find some to be intriguing, while some may not be your cup of tea — see which ones work best for you. If you’re new to meditation, we recommend guided mindfulness meditation led by a teacher in person might be a good place to start. Alternatively, you can read up various facets of the topic at Headspace or mindful.org.
There are multiple ways of cultivating the art of mindfulness. And one of the most common ways is to use your breath to anchor your mind and practice present moment awareness. First of all, get intimate with your breath and focus your attention on feeling the breath going in and out of your body — specifically the rise and fall of your chest while breathing. Next, count your breaths if that helps you stay focused. Finally, notice the thoughts or feelings that arise when practicing this form of meditation. If you get distracted or catch your mind wandering away, gently return your focus to breathing. This technique is often used by mindfulness teachers to train beginners.
This technique uses meditation to connect with your body. It is an effective way of attuning your mind & body to being aware of the sensations in your body. Sit in a chair, on the floor, or lay down but get in a comfortable position for you. Gently close your eyes, start from your head or toes, and scan your body. Notice how each part feels, be aware of any bodily sensations, discomfort, or aches (these could be indicators of stress and anxiety). After noticing your body piece by piece, spend a few moments observing how your entire body feels as a whole. Take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes to conclude the meditation.
Like focusing on your breath, noticing your bodily sensations is a technique of bringing you into the present moment. And non-judgmental presence is at the heart of any mindful practice; noticing your bodily sensations without judgment is another way to be more mindful
In this mindfulness technique, you “make a note” of a particular thought or feeling when you get distracted during your meditation. The goal isn’t to suppress or ignore your thoughts while meditating but to get comfortable with witnessing those thoughts. The practice of noting the thoughts that come up in your mind during meditation helps you create space and learn more about your tendencies, habits, and conditioning. Along with actively observing those thoughts, remain calm, be aware of the present moment, and use your breathing to anchor you back to your meditation. Imagine the thoughts that come up in your mind during meditation, as clouds floating across an open sky; observe how they pass by, shift and eventually change form.
Instead of focusing on the breath or scanning your body, this technique involves focusing on your mental image of different people. It can be anyone, from the people you know or the ones you don’t; people you like or the ones you don’t like. You begin this meditation by calling up the warm feelings you have toward another person – a friend or sibling and then gradually extending those feelings to yourself, strangers, and all beings. You first direct these well-wishes and goodwill onto yourself, and then, gradually, as a rippling wave on still waters, you extend them to others. This might help you let go of some unhappy feelings that you may be harboring.
The premise of this practice is that since life involves unavoidable suffering, it’s better to embrace it whole-heartedly and be compassionate toward the suffering of ourselves and others. This technique is quite similar to the loving kindness meditation, but it differs from the former in one aspect. While the loving kindness technique involved focusing on a mental image of someone that you might not know or love, this technique involves focusing on a person you do know and/or love. Pay attention to the sensations that arise from your heart when you think of them.
The aptly named technique is considered to be helpful in dissolving self-centeredness and isolation while simultaneously opening your heart and mind for the benefit of other people. This benevolence, in turn, cultivates compassion and fosters a feeling of happiness in our own minds. Compassion meditation, also known as Karuna Meditation, focuses on the alleviation of the suffering of all sentient beings and awakening our inherent compassion. It encourages one to discover and accept their own humanness.
This technique uses visualization to focus on an image of something or someone to hold attention. Concentrate on something beautiful — like the light shimmering off the surface of a lake during sunset, a flower, the movement of leaves of a tree due to wind or maybe try focusing on something that’s sentient — like the eyes of your pet or your child. The underlying working principle here is that a familiar image will help you maintain a relaxed focus.
Using visual stimuli to anchor your focus is an effective practice in becoming more mindful and disciplining your mind to concentrate on something important. When you’re fully immersed in the present moment and what’s before you, your concentration will bring many, many gifts — insights and mindfulness are just a few of them.
Unlike all the meditation techniques mentioned above that involve focusing on the breath or visual stimuli, this technique involves letting your mind truly rest. Thoughts may arise in your mind during meditation, but instead of distracting you from the present moment, they simply leave. And If you still find yourself drifting away in your thoughts, without any shadow of judgment, observe where your mind drifted to and gently return back to your breathing. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your mind keeps wandering; the practice of refocusing on the present is the practice of mindfulness.
This technique begins with asking yourself a question in the second person(this change of perspective will discourage your intellectual mind from answering rationally). Your question can be something along the lines of — “What are you most grateful for?”, “Who are you, really?” or “Are you holding on to something that you need to let go of?”
Rather than focusing on the thoughts that arise during this meditation, be aware of the feelings when you focus on the questions.