Mindfulness, this word seems to be everywhere you turn. On top of that, it is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. This ancient practice of focusing on the present moment and calmly acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, and sensations has been shown to have a range of benefits for mental well-being, including reduced stress, improved mood, and increased happiness and satisfaction. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just starting out, incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can bring balance, calm, and joy to your life.
What better time to talk about mindfulness than during the month of May, also known as the Mental Health Awareness Month. Now, we’ve probably all come across this word at some point. But what do we really know about mindfulness? One thing is for sure, mindfulness is for everyone, regardless of age, background, or lifestyle. With that said, here is a nice intro to mindfulness, with tips, tools, and resources to help you get started and deepen your practice. Whether you prefer meditating, deep breathing, yoga, or journaling, there’s a technique that is perfect for you. So why wait? Let’s dive in and explore the many wonders of mindfulness and what it can do for you.
Did I spark your curiosity? Good but before we get into the different aspects, let’s take a moment to define what mindfulness really is.
Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.— Sylvia Boorstein
What does it mean to be mindful?
These days, we are all so busy getting from point A to B that very little time, if any, is left over to just be. To just exist in the moment. I understand that many of us have goals and things we wish to achieve. However, in our efforts to attain this we sometimes forget that the process of getting there is often the most precious thing we have to show for it.
Quite often we look to the future or even the past to escape our realities. We might look to the future with hope and expectations for better times to come. At the same time, we can look back to the past with longing and wonder if and when those times might return.
While we are so busy living in either the past or future, we are oblivious to the fact that time waits for no one. The present is quite truly the toughest but also the most rewarding time to exist in. Depending on what you might be experiencing, it can be rewarding and enjoyable. On the contrary, you might find it difficult to be confronted with the harsh reality of your situation, or dare I say even your own thoughts.
Even so, by practicing mindfulness we make a conscious choice to stop running. We learn to become strong and to face our realities and our own thoughts head first. By actually taking in the present moment we also learn to observe ourselves. Funnily enough by doing so, we can learn quite a bit about ourselves and how we can become more thoughtful in our responses to the things that happen to and/or around us.
1. Mindful Meditation
You might be wondering: how does meditation fit into all this? It’s actually one of the most common ways to practice mindfulness.
To start, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit, and then focus on your breathing. Let your thoughts come and go without judgment and simply observe them without getting caught up in them. Another way to practice is through deep breathing. This involves taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on the sensation of the air as it enters and exits your body.
2. Body Scanning
Be present in all things and thankful for all things.— Maya Angelou
Body scanning is another way to practice mindfulness. It involves lying down or sitting still and focusing your awareness on different parts of your body, noticing any sensations or feelings.
3. Yoga – Mindfulness Through Movement
Yoga is another way to combine mindfulness with physical activity, as it involves physical postures and movements combined with mindfulness and breathing exercises.
4. Mindful Walking
For the more active ones amongst us and the lovers of the outdoors, mindful walking is a great option. This involves walking slowly and focusing your attention on the sensation of your feet on the ground and the sensations in your body.
5. Gratitude Journaling
In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.— Eckhart Tolle
Gratitude journaling is a simple but effective way to practice mindfulness, as it involves writing down three things you are grateful for each day. This helps to shift your focus to the present moment and all the things you have to be thankful for, rather than dwelling on negative thoughts and feelings.
6. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is another way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, as it involves paying attention to the taste, texture, and sensation of each bite of food, instead of eating mindlessly.
There are many helpful and fun resources available to help you learn about and practice mindfulness.
- For the more technically-inclined amongst you there are some great mindfulness apps out there including Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer. These apps offer guided meditations, exercises, and other tools to help you practice mindfulness.
- Prefer to listen? Podcasts such as The Mindful Minute, Meditation Oasis, and 10% Happier with Dan Harris are another great way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
- Would you rather have some physical paper between your fingers or a good ebook? Reading books, such as “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh, is another way to deepen your understanding and practice of mindfulness.
- Online courses and workshops are also available to help you learn about and practice mindfulness. Sites like Coursera and Udemy offer in-depth instruction, guided meditations, and other resources to help you practice.
- Attending mindfulness workshops is another fun and interactive way to learn about and practice mindfulness. Many local yoga studios, community centers, and health clinics offer workshops on mindfulness.
- Finally, joining a mindfulness community can be a great way to practice, connect with others, and find support. You can find mindfulness communities through your local meetups, religious organizations, or online forums.
Mindfulness is a simple yet powerful practice that can improve your mental and physical well-being. From meditation and deep breathing to body scanning and gratitude journaling, there are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. With the help of mindfulness apps, podcasts, books, online courses, workshops, and communities, you can deepen your understanding and practice of mindfulness in a fun and engaging way. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, can help you experience the many benefits of this ancient practice and live a happier life. May mindfulness be your guiding light, keeping you anchored in the present moment and helping you stay true to your authentic self as you navigate this interesting journey called life.
“The mind is everything; what you think, you become.”