Learn about mindful meditation and how it can reduce stress and improve your life. www.wavesandwillows.com

Mindful Meditation: How to Reduce Stress and Be Happy

Mindful meditation. Is it just me or are you hearing about this everywhere these days?  From celebrities to successful CEOs, to the coffee barista you chatted with this morning, everyone seems to be talking about mindful meditation.

So as someone who has never practiced meditation before but who loves to discover new ways to feel awesome and happy, I decided to check it out!  I wanted to know: what exactly is mindful meditation? Could meditation improve my life? And how exactly do you do it?

If you’ve ever wanted to know what mindful meditation is all about and if it could make a positive difference in your life, you’re in the right place! Read on!

Spoiler alert: I found a free mediation app that will literally change your life.  My full review is below!

What is Mindful Meditation?

I thought I would start at the beginning and find out what mindful meditation is exactly.  Well, it turns out that it really depends on who you ask!

According to Dictionary.com, it’s “to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect” while the Oxford Dictionary defines meditating as “focusing one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.”

To be honest, those sound like two pretty dull definitions to me. But we can start to understand what they’re getting at.  So let’s just break it down ourselves and simply say that mindful meditation is:

  • taking some time to focus on being present and mindful;
  • shutting out all of the outside noise that clouds our minds; and
  • allowing ourselves to relax our bodies and minds.

In Jen Sincero’s New York Times bestselling book “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” (which I highly recommend and you can buy here), she gives a great explanation of meditation.  She also gives some good descriptions of what to expect when you first start and probably my favorite definition of meditation:

“Meditating…is like riding the airstream of awesomeness” – Jen Sincero

Meditation sounds interesting, but I still wanted to know why I should actually try it.

Why Should I Try Mindful Meditation?

According to the experts, there are many reasons that we should practice mindful meditation, but the #1 reason is because we are STRESSED OUT!

Stress is happening to us and everyone we know at this very moment to some degree.  How many times a day do you hear someone say that they’re stressed?  Or see someone in an obviously stressed state?  Maybe it’s your neighbor, your friend, your family member or maybe it’s you!

According to a 2014 study completed by The American Institute of Stress (yes, there is such a thing):

  • 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress; and
  • 48% of people report laying awake at night due to stress.

Those statistics are terrible! And I can’t imagine that those numbers would have improved in the time since the study was completed.  So there’s no question that we need to find a way to manage and reduce our stress levels in order to feel better and be happier. (You can also read about my 5 Incredibly Simple Ways to Feel Happy in Minutes here.)

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD reviewed almost 19,000 meditation studies and published their findings that suggest that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.  That’s amazing!

Many people who practice mindful meditation also report an overall feeling of contentment, relaxation, a greater sense of self awareness, gratitude and being in a better mood.  I don’t know about you, but those sound like some fantastic results that I could definitely use in my life!

I decided that I was going to go for it and give mindful meditation a try because really, with benefits like that, what did I have to lose?

How to improve your life with mindful meditation - www.wavesandwillows.com

My Mindful Meditation Experience

I really started out knowing nothing about how to actually practice meditation.  Did I have to sit in the lotus position and light candles? And how much time would I have to commit to this?

I decided to do some research and it turns out that there are endless resources available on mindful meditation including books, guides, tutorials, seminars, classes and videos.  There’s so much information!  Luckily, I checked to see if there were any good free meditation apps available and I struck gold.

I decided to start my mindful meditation journey by using a free app called “Breethe – Guided Meditation & Mindfulness” by OMG. I can Meditate! Inc.  The mediation app was created by the amazing Lynne Goldberg, a certified meditation coach.  Lynne is truly an inspirational woman who transformed her life through meditation and is passionate about helping others to transform their lives too.

The App

Breethe

Mindful Meditation can reduce your stress and make you feel awesome! Learn all about mindful meditation and my meditation journey. www.wavesandwillows.com
Breethe – Guided Meditation & Mindfulness

After looking at the variety of meditation apps available, I decided to try Breethe because it was a free app and there were great meditation options to choose from.  I tried the free version, however there are even more options available for paid subscribers.

The free meditation options include a choice of duration from a 4 minute “Wake Up with Intention”, a 20 minute “Sweet Dreams” and a variety of choices in between.  If you’ve only got 5 minutes to spare, there’s the “Five Minute Meditation” to have you quickly getting your meditation on!

There are also specific meditations to help you through dealing with pressure, feeling loved and a 7 day Feeling Happier program.

I chose to start my meditation experience with the “7 Day Learn to Meditate” program since that’s exactly what I wanted to do!  One meditation per day for 7 days, not a huge commitment and I knew I could follow through with it.

7 Day Learn to Meditate

Day 1

I’m not going to lie, I felt a little doubtful that I could actually sit still in silence for 12 minutes without thinking about the million things that I had to do! But I followed the instructions to sit comfortably in my chair with my hands in my lap, close my eyes and focus on my breathing.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of Lynne Goldberg, the creator of Breethe, talk me through my first attempt at meditation!  She guided me through the whole meditation session with her calming voice and thoughtful reminders.  

Just when I would be sitting there thinking, “Am I doing this right?” she would assure me that I was and that having your mind wander is all part of learning meditation.  It was like having a friend sitting there with me, I just loved it!

Before I knew it, a little bell went off and it was over.  I had meditated for 12 minutes! Me! I couldn’t believe it! It felt like only a few minutes had passed!

I sat there for a minute, trying to assess how I felt.  Did I feel any difference?  I actually did!  I felt rested and content and really relaxed and I couldn’t wait for Day 2!

 Day 2

Day 2 was a little bit harder for me.  My legs felt restless and I couldn’t quite stop fidgeting.  But Lynne explained that this was totally normal and that mediation truly is a practice.  I got through it though and still felt good and less stressed when it was over.  It didn’t work out quite as well as Day 1 but I wasn’t going to give up.

 Day 3

This was actually kind of a fail!  I waited until too late and tried meditating right before bed.  I kept falling asleep!  Which I learned is not staying active enough for true mediation.  Lesson learned, don’t try to actively meditate when you’re completely exhausted!

 Day 4-6

The next three days went really well and I knew that I had found something that I was really going to stick with. The duration of each session for days 4,5 and 6 got longer only by a few minutes each but I did notice the difference.  A couple of times while I was meditating, I did start to wonder how much time was left in the session (oops!) but the peaceful feelings after I finished each meditation continued to amaze me.

 Day 7 – last day

My last day of the 7 Day Learn to Meditate and this was my best meditation by far!  I did it!  In just 7 days, I could sit still and calmly focus and let my mind relax.  When my thoughts started to wander, I would listen to Lynne’s instructions to focus on my breathing.  I found that advice to be the most helpful guidance of all.  Focusing on my breath and silently saying to myself “breathing in and breathing out” really redirected my attention.

I felt like I was slowly getting the hang of meditation and felt so encouraged!  I meditated for 14 minutes but it felt like a fraction of the time, it just flew by!

What I Learned

After trying mindful meditation for a week, these are some of the things that I learned:

  1. The biggest eye opener was the noticeable change in how I felt after only 12-14 minutes of meditation.  I felt completely relaxed and calm, even though I had so much going on and was so busy on those days.  It was almost like waking up from a really restful sleep, everything just felt peaceful.
  2. Mindful meditation is a life long practice and a week is just a small sample of the results that I could expect.  It reminded me of when I first started yoga, I had to come to the realization that if I wanted to improve, I had to practice.
  3. I became much more aware of my thoughts and it was actually funny to realize what I thought about! From dinner planning, to work, to setting the PVR, my thoughts were so random! It was interesting to observe them and then just let them go.
  4. Choose the right time to meditate.  I’m sure that the right time is different for everyone, but starting the day off with some meditation in the morning is ideal!  At the end of the day when you’re exhausted is not the right time!
  5. I’m going to try to incorporate mindful meditation into my life on a regular basis and see how far I can progress!  This was such a positive experience, I can’t think of any reason why I would want to stop practicing meditation.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a simple way to improve your life, reduce your stress, feel happier and be in a better mood?  Then mindful meditation might just be the solution!  Mindful meditation is just one small step we can take to change how we handle stress and improve our overall sense of well being.

After trying the 7 Day Learn to Meditate program from the free Breethe meditation app, my feeling of relaxation and happiness improved.  It was only a week of short meditation sessions, but the results I felt were enough to convince me that I need to try incorporating meditation into my daily life.  I plan on trying the other guided meditation options available on the Breethe app and also trying mindful meditation just on my own.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

You don’t need fancy equipment, you don’t need to be a spiritual guru or a yogi.  You just need to spend some time relaxing with your thoughts and being mindful.

Mindful meditation is a life long practice and some meditations will feel easier than others.  But it’s okay to be a beginner!  We all need to start somewhere and I hope you try mindful meditation and start seeing your own positive results today.

Have you tried mindful meditation? What did you think about it?  Let me know!

Wishing you happiness!

Jen

www.wavesandwillows.com

P.S. Have you joined my free Facebook community The Good Vibe Goal Getters? We’re all about mindset and motivation for heart-centered women entrepreneurs. Click here to join!

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Comments

  1. Karen

    Great post with lots of good information if you can master this life is good!

  2. Waves and Willows

    Glad you enjoyed it! It’s definitely a life long practice, but worth the effort I think!

  3. Tricia

    I love your post… I have been trying meditation for about a year now. The difference is astounding. I wish everyone truly understood how important this practice can be. Infinite peace and calm…if we choose 🙂 thank you for the reminder!

  4. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Tricia! I’ve seen such a difference as well, I’m excited to continue with it! I hope you’ll keep going with your practice too! All the best.

  5. stephanie

    Great read! I totally agree, there were some really good points in here. Isn’t it scary when you read some of the stats! We don’t realise until we really do our research huh!

    Love it!

  6. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Stephanie! It really is amazing how stress impacts so many people! Hopefully this can help a bit! All the best!

  7. Waves and Willows

    That’s awesome! I’m really enjoying it so far, it’s pretty exciting. Let me know how it goes! All the best.

  8. Waves and Willows

    Yes, try the app for sure! I found that it made it much easier to do. Good luck!

  9. Milly

    Great read. There are some great tips here and I also you shared your experience. Trying the app tomorrow

  10. This is a great article. I want to get more into meditation, very helpful thank you for sharing.

  11. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Milly! Great to hear that you’re going to give it a try! Let me know how it goes!

  12. Waves and Willows

    Thank you! So glad you enjoyed reading it!

  13. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Corina! I’m so glad you found this helpful! Let me know how it goes! All the best.

  14. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Jessica! If you give it a try, let me know what you think! Hope you’re having a great day!

  15. Yen

    I find mindfulness is so important in our daily life and everyday mindfulness helps us stay healthy!

  16. Such good tips! I just got an iWatch and it reminds me to breathe when my heart rate spikes but I’m not active (aka stress!) Its been an amazing reminder. I didn’t realize how often I held my breath or got too stressed!

  17. Sarah Surman

    Great post Jen! Such an insightful post on meditation that I hadnt really considered before….Opened my eyes to really seriously thinking about engaging in some mindful meditation to reduce stress and pain in my own life!
    Thanks for writing this xo S

  18. Waves and Willows

    Thanks for your support! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  19. Waves and Willows

    Yes! I completely agree! It really is such a small thing that we can do but it makes such an impact. Thanks for reading!

  20. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Katie! I love that the iWatch does that because you’re right, so often we don’t realize how stressed we are! Isn’t technology amazing?

  21. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Sarah! It’s been a real eye-opener for me, I hope you find that it helps to reduce your stress! Let me know how it goes!

  22. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Alina! That’s great to hear! All the best!

  23. Really enjoyed your post! I recently began meditating and find it so relaxing. Such a good habit to get into.

  24. Kathy

    I’ve been working on this myself! Just can’t seem to make it a habit yet! The same with yoga! Hopefully I’ll get there soon! Good luck to you!

  25. Katherine

    Some great tips here! I’d never considered meditation before but it might be something I should try out! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Ellen! I totally agree, it’s such a great habit to get into and really feels relaxing! All the best!

  27. Waves and Willows

    Meditation is definitely a practice, like yoga! I’m just learning to make it a part of my daily routine too. Keep going!

  28. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Suanlian! Meditation every morning sounds like the perfect way to start your day! Thanks for reading!

  29. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Katherine! I think it’s definitely worth trying! Let me know how it goes! All the best!

  30. Mahrukh Saif

    Meditation really had great power…..to exist in this boisterous world….we do need meditation to free ourselves of all this stress

  31. Waves and Willows

    I agree! I think meditation can be a great way to reduce our stress and feel better! Thanks for reading!

  32. Ashley

    Mindful meditation has been quite popular these days but until reading this I didn’t quite understand. Like you said, the most common descriptions seemed rather dull and made you think to figure out what it truly means. Never really explaining how to meditate mindfully. I loved reading this and will try to incorporate this into my busy life with kids. You have inspired me to look into this further and to try It out, should be a great release from day to day parenting!

  33. Ella G

    I started this quite recently, along with positive thinking, and saying yes to everything that comes my way. Its making a big difference to my well being and happiness, and I agree that everyone should try it. Thanks for the post.

  34. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Ashley! I really hope you do try it out! I’ve only started, yet found it to be an amazing way to de-stress after a busy day with work and family. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes! Best wishes!

  35. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Ella! That’s so cool that you’ve started meditation. And positive thinking makes such a HUGE difference! I hope you continue to see some great, positive changes in your life! Thanks for reading, all the best!

  36. Great read. I recently started using the ‘Breathe’ app. It really is helpful.

  37. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Lynde! It’s such a great app, isn’t it? So glad you find it helpful!

  38. Great tips! I am sooo one of those people who show physical signs of stress. And sadly, those signs are always evolving. Trying to actively keep the stress low so I’m not “feeling it” all the time. Thanks for this!

  39. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Nadalie! Good idea to try to keep your stress low, it makes such a huge difference! I hope this will help you! All the best.

  40. Love this! Meditation is such an import thing to do for me. It’s amazing how such a “simple” act can make such a difference in life.

  41. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Crystal! I totally agree! I was shocked at how just 10 minutes of meditation can change your whole day! Thanks for reading!

  42. Waves and Willows

    That’s awesome Rae! It’s really making a positive difference for me, I hope it does for you too! Let me know how it goes!

  43. I tried meditation at one stage, a different app and I think it started helping and then I stopped and “got too busy”. I’ll try this app. I have been doing yoga, which includes a bit of meditation and it’s a bit easier to do as you focus on the poses.

    Thanks for the review!

  44. Great tips! thank you! I’m someone who avoid to have stress because I can’t manage it…but it will help me next time!

  45. Kim

    My favorite meditation resource is Bexlife and the podcast Meditation Minis.

  46. Waves and Willows

    It’s so easy to get too busy, isn’t it? I hope you’ll enjoy the app! Thanks for reading Shameez!

  47. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Filiz! I hope this will help with managing your stress! Let me know how it goes! All the best!

  48. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Kim! I’ll have to check those out for sure!

  49. Tejal

    Being a mindfulness and meditation teacher teacher for moms I loved reading your journey and experience! Thanks for openly sharing your journey and inspiring others to find a new way to release stress! This is the mindfulness generation for sure!

  50. Waves and Willows

    Thank you Tejal, I really appreciate that! I truly hope that my experience will help someone feel better and happier. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  51. allwedoiswander

    We started doing our mediation to clam the stress of full-time travel and it has been so helpful. Great advice!

  52. Waves and Willows

    That’s great to hear! And what a perfect thing to do while traveling! No equipment required! Thanks for reading.

  53. Great share very well explained and in detail. Like that you put in each day what you lean and feel. Also the conclusion was pretty good. Congratulations on your new skill 🙂

  54. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Vazric! It’s always interesting to try something new, especially when it ends up being so positive! Thanks for reading!

  55. Yes! This has really opened my eyes about mindful meditation and I can’t wait to try it.

  56. I always go back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should try meditation and I think this post has finally convinced me!

  57. Besides programmed meditation, I always try to live, breathe, eat mindfully.
    Loved your post and it is definitely a must for beginners in this great practice of meditating.
    Thank you for sharing!

  58. Guided meditation has always been interesting to me.. but like you, I always found myself sceptical and unable to switch my mind off.
    Maybe I’m doing it wrong! Thanks for sharing!

  59. Waves and Willows

    That’s awesome Erica! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  60. Waves and Willows

    Yes!! I love that! Totally go for it and let me know how it works out for you!

  61. Waves and Willows

    Thank you Dr. Marcu! I’m also trying to incorporate mindfulness into my life in many other ways. It certainly makes a difference! Thanks for reading!

  62. Waves and Willows

    I think trying to relax our minds is the biggest challenge of all! And also why meditation is a practice. Keep going with it and I’m sure you’ll get there! Thanks for reading Laura!

  63. Ana

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am going to further research this and give this a try.

  64. Waves and Willows

    Oh you’re so welcome! I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it goes! Thanks for reading!

  65. This post is fantastic and extremely informative. I’m probably the most stressed out person there is. I have physical signs of stress/anxiety and there are nights when I don’t sleep at all! I’m going to try the app! I think that learning HOW to meditate will be a huge help. Thank you for this great post!

  66. Cate

    this is great! I’ve already downloaded the app and can’t wait to try it! I fear I will fidget too much have my mind wander or fall asleep but I am anxious to try!

  67. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Andrea! I really hope that you give the app a try and that it helps get rid of some of that stress! Let me know how it goes!

  68. Waves and Willows

    Hi Cate! I had the same fears, but don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong. Just go for it! And remember that meditation is a practice, some days will be easier than others. You can do it! Let me know how it goes!

  69. I also do Meditation. It helps a lot in making my busy routine smooth and easy. I learnt a lot through your post and still much more to learn through the app. It will be of great help. Thanks for sharing.

  70. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Minakshi! I’m glad you found this helpful! I agree, meditation seems to really help with our busy lives. Thanks for reading!

  71. I was thinking on the drive home tonight that I need to try this! I get really loud tinnitus when I feel stressed, so meditation helps!

  72. Waves and Willows

    Go for it Laura! I really hope it helps you out! Let me know how it goes!

  73. Wow! This is great! I love how you actually tried this THEN shared! It makes it so much more meaningful to read when you know the author has experience 🙂 Thanks girl!
    -Lindsey

  74. Waves and Willows

    Thanks Lindsey! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I really thought it was important to only recommend something based on personal experience! 🙂

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