You’ve probably heard about mindfulness before, as more and more people are trying to practice it to reduce the stress of their busy lives. In the fast-paced environment we live in, it is important to slow down, at least from time to time, to take a deep breath and embrace the present moment.
There are many great benefits of mindfulness, such as stress reduction, better focus, and cognitive flexibility. Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that it has numerous health benefits, such as increased immune functioning. Since 1970, mindfulness has been also used in psychological therapies.
This article will guide you through the most effective techniques for practicing mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Before we move further to the practical exercises, it is important to understand what mindfulness is.
Mindfulness is often confused with meditation. While the purpose of certain types of meditation is to achieve this state, they are different things.
American Psychological Association defines mindfulness as follows:
“…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
In other words, mindfulness is a state that can be achieved through practice and that involves awareness and lack of judgment.
How Can You Practice Mindfulness?
Now that we have established what mindfulness is, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to practice it. Learn how to bring peace and joy to your life with these 7 simple steps:
1. Focus on your breath
A simple exercise consists in focusing on your breath. Notice how you breathe in and out. By doing this, you clear your mind and stop the mental discourse. You’re putting an end to the stressful thoughts in your head, as all your attention is focused on the natural process of breathing.
Do this as often as you can. Take some deep breaths and focus on them. Doing this throughout your day will help you remain focused and calm, and will help you detach from the negative thoughts.
2. Pay attention to your bodily sensations
The purpose of this exercise is to develop an awareness of your body. Focus on different parts of your body and check how they feel. Are they relaxed? Do you feel any tension? Perform this scan a few times and try to relax the parts that feel tense.
When your mind pays attention to your body, it is much easier to anchor yourself in the present moment and cultivate awareness. Unfortunately, in our day-to-day life, our minds and our bodies are often disconnected from each other. Unless something hurts, we tend to be so lost in our thoughts that we don’t pay attention to our bodies.
3. Practice meditation
Meditation is a simple and effective practice that can work wonders for your overall mood if practiced on a regular basis. In fact, 94% of women who practice meditation find it helpful.
Mindful meditation encompasses the previous practices and it is the most popular method for achieving mindfulness. It consists in sitting for a few minutes, usually with your eyes closed, and focusing on your breathing or on different parts of your body.
If you would like to start practicing meditation, but you don’t know where to start, check out my guide for beginners!
4. Take a walk
Have you ever heard of walking meditation?
It is similar to other types of meditations and it involves focusing on the physical act of walking.
Be aware of every step you take. More than that, enjoy it. Notice the surroundings—the view, the sounds, and the smell. Cultivate a feeling of gratefulness for being able to take a walk and enjoy the present moment. Let your mind and body be connected and come back to the present moment whenever your mind tries to wander.
5. Get proper rest
We have busy lives and, in order to accomplish everything we want, we often tend to cut down on our sleeping hours. While finishing our tasks is important, there is nothing more important than our health and well-being.
One of the drawbacks of being tired is the fact that we lose focus. When we don’t get enough rest, our mind starts jumping from one task to another and it is difficult for us to concentrate on anything.
Therefore, to have clarity and to be able to focus on our present actions, we need to prioritize our health and get proper rest.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Your mind will inevitably try to wander. It’s normal. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for not getting it right in the beginning. After all, the whole purpose of this practice is to improve your well-being, so overthinking it will only harm you.
You will get better in time if you practice it regularly.
7. Realize you are not your thoughts
Last but not least, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are not our minds. Our thoughts and emotions come and go, but they are not us.
It is common for people to identify with their thoughts, but it is an unhealthy habit. Instead of doing this, try to be the witness of your thoughts. Observe them as they come and go from a neutral perspective. Once you manage to do this, it will be much easier for you to detach from your daily worries and deal with stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is about noticing what happens in the present moment, becoming aware of your thoughts and sensations, and detaching yourself from negative emotions.
Give it a try and integrate these practices into your daily routine. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!