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How To Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice that can help you become more aware of, and enjoy the present moment.
This is an important skill to learn and develop as when we are more anchored in the present we are less inclined to ruminate about negative events in the past, recalling and reliving those emotions that may make us feel sad or regretful.
We are also less likely to worry about hypothetical events in the future which can lead to feelings of anxiety.
In my twenties I often found myself stuck in a useless pattern of thinking about events that occurred in the past, sometimes events that happened many years ago, accompanied with a critical, repetitive narrative that highlighted all the mistakes I had made while experiencing the negative feelings that accompanied that event.
It took me a long time to even identify this damaging pattern of thinking, become aware of the effects holding onto the story of the past had on my present situation, and how it created anxiety about the future.
I practice mindfulness to anchor my mind into the present, become aware of my thoughts, emotions and sensations in my body and experienced more joy and self-awareness as a result. I continue to do this daily and enjoy each day through the lens of mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness by paying attention to your thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations.
One of the most common ways to practice mindfulness is to use your five senses to ground yourself in the present moment.
Other methods include noticing the beauty in nature or focusing on a particular emotion, for example, gratitude or love.
Common Misconceptions Around Mindfulness
- Mindfulness is for stress reduction. Reducing stress is a wonderful and important side effect, but there are many other reasons to practice mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is the same as meditation and I need to sit still and be quiet. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine and daily activities. Most activities you currently do can be carried out in a more mindful way. And of course, you can sit still and practice mindfulness quietly too!
- Mindfulness is antisocial and makes you more isolated. I practice daily mindfulness alone and with my children and my husband where we talk about the best part of the day, discuss our feelings, go for walks and comment about what we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell and what we feel in our bodies as well as mindful activities like watching a sunset with appreciation or colouring together. You probably already do this too, but perhaps are not consciously practising mindfulness yet!
- Mindfulness is just for religious or spiritual people. Mindfulness is a common technique used in many forms of therapy with a great deal of research being invested in this topic to investigate the correlation between mindfulness practices and increased wellness.
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How To Start A Mindfulness Practice?
The intention to learn and develop these skills is amazing. The best way is to incorporate a mindful attitude throughout your day. A mindfulness practice doesn’t have to be long. The following short activities are wonderful mindfulness practices to start with.
- Body scanning
- 5 senses, for example, mindful eating (taste)
- Observation and acceptance of your thoughts and emotions
- Being around beauty in nature
- Focus on feelings of gratitude or love
Tips For Success To Practice Mindfulness
- Start now! It is natural to find excuses, but you can do it!
- Prioritize a short amount of time every day for one mindful activity
- Get your kids or partner involved.
- Find a teacher or a class to support you.
- Be patient. It can take time to calm the mind and see results.
- Mindfulness is a beautiful way to live. You start to see the world how children do. The small details delight and excite us again. By living in the now you start to really enjoy life. So remember to have fun!
- Where does it come from? This practice originates in Buddhist and Hindu cultures as well as in yoga philosophy, however now it has become mainstream especially in the west with a huge emphasis in the field of positive psychology, mental health and therapy. Research in this field shows how mindfulness can benefit everyone from people in the prison system, CEOs, children and new mums. Anyone with a mind, body and a soul!
- Who is for? Everyone! I even believe children especially need this in their school curriculum.
- What are the benefits? Many health benefits including emotional wellbeing. I find the most important benefit is improving the relationship with yourself and relationships with others, your partner, your friends, colleagues, your children and that annoying person you have to deal with every day!
The Last Thing You Need To Know
Mindfulness is a way to be, to slow down, manage a wandering mind and pay attention to the wonders of the present moment. It is an effective practice to really notice and experience the world around you and appreciate your human experience.
Mindfulness can change your day and therefore as the days add up, it can change your life.
Mindfulness has an impact on the people around us as through a mindfulness practice every day, we become more self-aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviour, and how we can influence them.
You get to know yourself and understand to some extent why you act a certain way. This makes us all much easier people to be around!
Do you practice mindfulness?
What has worked for you?
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. You never know how your experiences might help another person.