You’ve probably heard it before, possibly seen some people swear by it, but never really understood what the big fuss is all about. No worries, I got you covered!
Mindfulness is a skill, and guess what? YOU already have it! It is built into how our brain works and it helps us focus and TUNE IN to what’s happening in the moment, purposely and without judgment. Quite simply, mindfulness is an ability; it gives us the potential to notice bodily sensations, challenging thoughts and feelings, control our mind and behavior, and helps us find more joy in our life!
Ever found yourself doing a mindless task, such as loading the washing machine, and realizing at the end of the job that you were entirely out of touch with your body and thoughts? Annoying, isn’t it? Mindfulness helps us to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing in the moment, and not become reactive or overwhelmed by our surrounding. Whenever we drift away, mindfulness practice is there to snap us back to reality, to where we are and what we’re doing and feeling. Although mindfulness is innate, we need to practice and strengthen it in our daily practice to ensure its efficacy.
Research shows that there are many benefits to practicing mindfulness:
?Foster an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance
?Increase awareness and insight
?Decrease stress and anxiety
?Increase empathy and compassion
If you’re new to mindfulness, here’s a quick glimpse of what it looks like with a posture practice, adopted from Mindful:
1. Sit comfortably, whether on a chair, bed, cushion, bench, etc.
2. Notice your legs, straighten your posture (don’t stiffen, though), and extend your upper arms and drop onto the tops of your thighs. Tune in to your body to ensure you’re comfortable – body parts not too tight or too loose.
3. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. You may let your eyelids drop lower. If you feel the need, you may lower them completely, but it’s not necessary to close your eyes when meditating. You can just let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
4. Be there for a few moments. Relax. Now get up and go about your day. And if the next thing on the agenda is doing some mindfulness practice by paying attention to your breath or the sensations in your body, you’ve started off on the right foot—and hands and arms and everything else.
5. Begin again. When your posture is established, feel your breath—or some say “follow” it—as it goes out and as it goes in. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—return your attention to the breath. Don’t bother judging yourself or obsessing over the content of the thoughts. Come back. You go away, you come back.
And that’s it; that’s the practice! It’s often been said that it’s pretty effortless, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accumulate, and you’ll notice a vast difference to your mental wellbeing, stress levels, and self-kindness.