The practice of mindfulness has become an increasingly popular technique to help cope with stress, mental health issues, and difficult emotions.
What Is Mindfulness?
At its most basic, mindfulness is the practice of cultivating awareness of thoughts and feelings and remaining focused on the present moment. Common mindfulness techniques include meditation, breathwork, and other intentional habits that help foster non-judgement and conscious observation of one’s thoughts and feelings.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Extensive research has proven that the mental and physical health benefits of mindfulness and meditation are extensive. These include:
- reduced stress
- better focus and attention
- higher relationship satisfaction
- decreased emotional reactivity
- improved memory capacity
- better immune function
- overall improved well-being
- higher creativity
How To Practice Mindfulness
Fortunately, starting a mindfulness practice is easier than you might think. Mindfulness doesn’t require any special equipment, subscriptions, or formal instruction (although those things can be helpful for some people, if you’re interested in them). All you need to get started with mindfulness is your brain and a few minutes of your day. Here are a few simple exercises to try:
Meditation. There are a variety of different types of meditation you can try, from simply quieting your mind for a few minutes to meditating on a specific outcome or concept. Consider doing some research on meditation techniques for beginners, or looking for free guided meditations on the internet.
Practice Observing Without Judging. One of the key tenets of mindfulness is that thoughts and feelings aren’t inherently bad. Rather, it’s the meaning that we attach to them that defines our experience of them. The next time you’re experiencing strong feelings or difficult thoughts, see if you can take the position of an outside observer. Allow your thoughts and feelings to pass through you without getting caught up in them. Notice how this changes your experience of them.
Use Your Breath and Body. Mindfulness encourages intentional awareness of the present moment. One of the best ways to tap into the present moment is to use your body and breath to ground yourself. If you find yourself thinking about the future, making lists, or becoming distracted during your day, take a few seconds to focus on your breath, or scan your body for any sensations you’re experiencing. Each time your mind wanders, gently refocus on your breath and body.
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