Mindfulness seems to be the flavor of the month recently, but do you actually know what it means? With every guru and his dog telling you to be more mindful in your day to day life, there’s no denying that this whole ‘mindfulness’ thing is becoming more and more popular. But, where does it come from and what does it mean? How do you become more mindful? How do you practice mindfulness? We’re going to take it back to the basics with a quick guide on mindfulness – from what it means to how you can be more mindful in your life.
What exactly is mindfulness?
Let’s kick off with the definition of mindfulness… According to the dictionary, mindfulness is a mental state which is achieved by focusing one’s attention on the present moment. Okay, so that doesn’t really help us! Basically, mindfulness in its simplest form is a type of meditation that has been around forever, but is only really just becoming popular in the Western world. The purpose of mindfulness is to be more ‘mindful’ (funnily enough). It means you observe yourself and the world around you, in a calm and non-judgemental way. While practicing mindfulness, you calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and sensations in your body. Sounds pretty good, right? But what’s the point?
The benefits of mindfulness
Those who practice mindfulness every day (or as often as possible) will soon find themselves calmer, happier, and able to deal with the stresses of daily life in a more positive manner. There are plenty of studies which show mindfulness can help with a range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and stress. It’s also thought that practicing mindfulness can have positive effects on your physical well being, especially as you will be able to sleep better, are more aware of your body, and have lower stress levels which therefore helps with things like high blood pressure. The benefits of mindfulness can be listed in their plenty, but how do we go about being more mindful?
How to practice mindfulness
One of the basics of mindfulness is your breathing. If you’re just starting out then the best thing you can do is focus on your breathing. Take a big breath in, through your nose, making sure that the breath is coming from your stomach and not your chest. Now, exhale through your mouth as if you’re letting out a big sigh. Focus your mind on your breathing as you do this – you can even count the breaths if you find it helps you focus more! As you get the breathing part down, you can then add in various other mindfulness exercises that can help you feel more calm, relaxed and happy. There are several apps and websites that will help you with meditation and mindfulness exercises, including HeadSpace and Simple Habit. You can use these guided mindfulness exercises to learn the basics, before going it alone. You’ll then be able to practice mindfulness wherever you are – from sitting in the kitchen with your morning coffee to the toilet at work when things get just a little bit too much.
Mindfulness is an incredible meditation method that helps us be more mindful of our bodies and minds. While it’s quickly gaining momentum in the Western world, it’s something that has been practiced by many for thousands of years. Try a week of being more mindful and see if it helps improve your daily life – we’re betting it will!