02/17/2015 08:57 EST | Updated 04/19/2015 05:59 EDT

Tame Mental Agitation Through Mindfulness Meditation

young woman doing yoga,hand close-up
RunPhoto via Getty Images
young woman doing yoga,hand close-up

Have you ever thought to yourself: "I'm just the type of person who can't sit still"? Does your mind race with restless thoughts? You're not alone. The truth is, having peace of mind is not a matter of who you are. It's a matter of what you do. The good news is that it's a lot easier to achieve than you might think, once you know how.

With the mindfulness meditation practice, we cultivate peace of mind from two sides. First, we identify the sources of mental agitation, and we eliminate, or reduce them, as much as possible. Then we actively calm our mind with various mindfulness meditation techniques.

Most of us don't realize that we are the ones creating much of our mental agitation. Two common ways we do this are by saying yes to too many activities and commitments, and by allowing in too much background noise.

Scaling Back Commitments

Most of us have a host of goals we want to accomplish within our lifetime. We want to have a successful career, a nice family, and financial security. So we spend most of our time and energy working to attain them. What we may not realize is that we may be sacrificing our peace of mind in the process.

To regain that peace of mind, make a list of your commitments and regular activities in order of priority. Then eliminate those of low priority, and replace them with personal time, including time for meditation.

Embracing Silence and Stillness

Many of us are uncomfortable with complete silence. We often feel the need to have something going on in the background. So we turn on the radio or television to keep us company. This background noise stimulates our mind unnecessarily. The solution is simple: don't turn on any media or entertainment devices unless you're going to be fully engaged with them. Keep it quiet.

The Mindfulness Meditation Practice

If you are new to mindfulness meditation, begin meditating for short periods of time, as little as 10-15 minutes every other day. Find a place where you won't be disturbed. Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Focus your attention on the sensation of the air passing through the tip of your nose. Count your breaths one through five silently in your mind. When you get to five, simply start over again. Click here for some more basic mindfulness meditation techniques.

When your mind wanders off, immediately bring your attention back to your breath, and continue counting. Why count? It helps you stay focused and anchored in the present moment. After a few minutes, your mind will begin to slow down.

Two other techniques you can use are mindful breathing and mindful walking. You can practice mindful breathing any time of the day, wherever you may be. Simply stop what you're doing for a few seconds, and take three-five mindful breaths. This will interrupt the acceleration of your mind, so that it doesn't gain too much momentum.

Mindful walking can be done any time you have to walk somewhere. Just slow down a bit, and pay the same kind of attention to your footsteps as you do to your breaths during mindful breathing. It has the same effect, slowing down your thoughts, and keeping your mind from racing out of control.

Cultivating peace of mind is actually quite simple when you apply mindfulness meditation techniques. By calming your mind, you will achieve the inner peace and happiness that we're all searching for. The practice entails more than the techniques I've just shared with you, but these are a good start.

Make no mistake, mindfulness meditation will calm your mind, no matter how restless it may be, and quickly. I've seen it again and again. In my workshops, I've watched participants with ADD and ADHD, or detoxing from drugs and alcohol, sit completely still for a guided meditation that lasted a full half an hour. Mindfulness meditation is that powerful. It puts true happiness and peace of mind well within your reach.

Adapted from Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace.


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