Mindfulness. It is everywhere these days. What is it anyway?
Good news! Today we are going to talk about mindfulness; why it matters, and how it can help you lead a calmer, conscious, and more centered life.
Mindfulness itself is a concept that is as old as we are. So long as man has had a mind, he has had the ability to be aware of it. At its’ most basic, it is simply the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something (Dietz, 2012). For example, you can be mindful of the time, the temperature outside and even your feelings. Our mind is a beautiful instrument that has the ability to monitor itself AND all of our bodily functions at the same time. Understanding what your mind is capable of is actually a little MIND BLOWING!
In Buddhist practice, mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom. Buddhist monks study for years to reach spiritual awakening. Fortunately, this level of commitment is not necessary to received the benefit of a mindfulness practice. Basic (and effective) mindfulness practices can make marked differences in how we experience and respond to stress.
Practicing mindfulness has some serious benefits. Rather than being distracted by our lives or worrying them away, mindfulness allows us to be more aware of our thoughts, emotions and actions. In addition, when we are more aware and present we are far better at meeting our challenges with a clear head and greater willingness. Sounds pretty awesome right?
So, how does one be mindful exactly?
First of all, the deal and the practice are actually quite simple. It can achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Like many other activities, practicing mindfulness should be started slowly and worked into gradually over time. Start with 5-10 minutes a day of just observing your thoughts, without judgment or response. As you get more comfortable with the practice, you can increase your time.
1. First and foremost, remember to breath. Take deep breaths in out throughout your meditation. Focusing on your breath is also an
excellent tool to quiet your mind. Picture the air as it moves up your nostrils and into your lungs. Picture it leaving your system in the reverse. Breathe in light so you can breathe out stress.
2.Notice how you feel inside of your body. What sensations can you identify physically? Are you in any pain? Are some areas in your body tense? If so, try to breathe out the stress as you exhale.
3. What emotions are you feeling? Just describe them. There is no need to judge them because you are safe. If you need to cry, allow yourself to do so. If you want to laugh, go for it.
There is no pressure here because you are enough. Lean in slowly and enjoy. Furthermore, there are plenty of resources online that offer guided meditations as well as further instruction in mindfulness.
Dietz, L. (2012). Core Mindfulness. Retrieved from http://dbtselfhelp.com/html/core_mindfulness.html