What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
Whenever you bring conscious awareness to what you are experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you are being mindful.
It is possible for us to be mindful at any and every moment.
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.
The basics of mindfulness practice
Here is how to practice some mindfulness exercises throughout your day:
1. Set aside some time
You don’t need any sort of special equipment to practice mindfulness —but you do need to set aside some time and space.
2. Observe the present moment as it is
The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm and zen. The goal is simply to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment.
3. Let your judgements pass by
When you notice judgments arise during your practice, make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
4. Return to observing the present moment
Our minds can often get carried away in thought and overthinking. Thus, mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
Mindfulness can be practiced solo, anytime, or with like-minded friends. Daily guided meditations are also available by smartphone mindfulness apps, such as Calm and Headspace.
Basic mindfulness meditation
Sit quietly and focus on your breathing Allow thoughts to come and go without judging them or yourself, and return to your focus on breath.
Notice any sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches and let them go.
Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Whether Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
Cultivate mindfulness informally
In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities.
This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you drink a cup of tea, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.
What are the benefits of mindful meditation?
The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.
- Understanding your difficulties. Mindfulness can help you change your relationship with mental and physical struggle
- Lower stress and anxiety. Excess stress causes lots of illnesses and makes other illnesses worse. Mindfulness can help alleviate stress by improving emotion regulation, leading to a better mood
- Focus your mind. In today’s world, our busy lifestyles can result in our minds being a hectic place, straying from what we’re doing. Meditation hones our ability to focus
- Reduce brain chatter. The overthinking voice in your head may seem as though it is never going to tire. Mindfulness and meditation help reduce this feeling and give your mind a break
- Mindfulness trains your body to thrive. Athletes around the world use mindfulness to foster peak performance
- Mindfulness boosts creativity. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or colouring, they all have accompanying meditative practices. We can also apply mindfulness to the creative process
- Decreased depressive symptoms. Mindfulness provides the tools needed to step back from intense negative emotions, identify them, and accept them instead of fighting them
- Reduced work-related stress and psychological distress. One of the most common benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace is the decrease in stress and psychological stress experienced by employees
To reap the maximum benefits of mindfulness, it truly needs to be a practice, meaning that it must occur regularly and often. Even a brief, 10-minute daily practice can result in more efficient thought processes and better self-regulation.
Visit into your local CarePlus Pharmacist if you want to speak about mental health.