What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is being aware of out thoughts, physical sensations and our environment at any given moment. By that, I mean really “tuning in” and listening to what is going on with us and around us!
In being mindful, we are allowing out thoughts on these things to simply exist – and not attach any judgement to what we are thinking. We are focused on the here and now – not thinking ahead, or looking behind ourselves.
Why Practice It?
As with meditation, being mindful has proven to have many benefits. It can:
Increase sleep quality
Boost our immune system
Improve our memory and focusing skills
Reduce stress (including parents and pregnant women)
Help ward off anxiety and depression (including those who suffer from PTSD)
Increase relationship satisfaction
Increase self esteem
Increase creative thinking
Decrease hostility and rage – in fat those who practice mindfulness are more likely to help someone in need!
Reduce negative emotions
Here are some key components of practicing mindfulness and ways to incorporate its simplicity to your daily routine:
Consider your breathing – pay close attention especially if you are feeling stressed or have a very strong emotion
Add small segments of time to your daily habits where you can practice being mindful – take stairs and focus on the feeling of climbing up each one, for example
Pay attention to the physical sensations you experience each day – as in the shower meditation you can find here
Give yourself a time to ‘re-set” and perform a body scan to notice where you are feeling out of balance or have tightness or stress; - focus on each part of your body for just a few seconds, recognize what you feel there and allow it to let go.
Try the raisin exercise – this can actually be done with nearly any food but a raisin is a good example: focus on the item - slowly use all of your senses, one after another, to observe it in great detail, from the way it feels in your hand to the way its taste bursts on your tongue.
These are just a few examples of mindfulness idea you may want to try. Like any other practice, it is a skill that takes time to develop and not all aspects may be the right fit for you – so don’t give up, just try different things until you find the way, and time that works best for you! Allow yourself the chance to “single task” instead of multi task. Folding laundry? Feel each piece, notice the textures, is it warm from the dryer still? If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the current action or situation and keep going. Accept that each day is not going to be perfect – but that mindfulness will help you make each day better. Research suggests that at least 20 minutes a day of mindfulness is a good starting point. From there, try working up to a longer time of 45 minutes a day. Join your shorter sessions into longer ones and before you know it, you’ll be there!!
For more information or alternative mindful moments, check out this article called “Pocket Mindfulness”
Happy Friday the 13th! Have a terrific day!