Mindfulness is a way of being and thinking in the present moment. It allows us to feel without judgement that there is a right or wrong way to think or feel in any given moment.
When we become mindful, we allow ourselves to slow down to notice our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations (touch, smell, taste, etc.) We also become aware of what is happening around us in our surrounding environment. The purpose is to see things as they are and not how we want to see them.
So Why is Mindfulness Important?
Gradually, over time we can train ourselves to not let our thoughts control us. We do this by realizing and becoming aware of our thoughts when we live in the present moment. Awareness also helps us notice signs of stress and anxiety earlier so that we can deal with the more effectively.
It can improve our well being by:
- Allowing us to focus on the here and now;
- Less likely to get caught up in worries of the future or regrets of the past;
- Become less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem;
- Helps you become fully engaged in activities;
- Lowering anxiety levels
It can improve our physical health by:
- Helping to reduce stress;
- Lowering blood pressure;
- Improve sleep patterns;
- Aid in reducing chronic pain
What Are Some Mindfulness Techniques?
1. Practice a Morning Breathing Exercise
Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes a reflex stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a reduction in the heart rate and relaxation of the muscles. Try this type of breathing for five minutes a day.
2. Connect with Nature
Numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature can boost your immune system, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve concentration and creativity, relieve stress, and improve your memory. Even on a busy morning from walking to your house to car can have a profound effect on your mental well-being.
3. Take a Digital Break
When we feel overwhelmed at work, our first instinct is to turn to our devices as a source of comfort. This excessive connectivity also creates a false sense of urgency, as though we are missing something important if we are not constantly plugged in. Mindfully stepping away from your digital devices for short periods of time during your day allows you to feel more focused and centered when you do plug back in.
4. Practice a Walking Meditation
A walking meditation requires engaging all your senses. Be aware of your feet hitting the ground, your eyes taking in the sights around you, your lungs breathing the air in and out, and your ears hearing every sound. It’s a practice that allows you to be more connected with the environment, which is an essential part of who we are.
5. Practice TUZA
A 3-minute breathing practice that anchors awareness to our thoughts, feelings and body sensations in the present moment. You can use this technique at any time of the day. Make sure that you become aware of your breath. Sit in a comfortable position, allow all the tension to dissipate from your body by allowing your shoulders to drop, place your feet on the floor, and relax your hands on your thighs. Close your eyes and notice how your body feels. Notice your breathe when you in-hale and ex-hale. If your mind starts to wonder, simply let the thoughts go and come back to the breathe. When you’re ready, open your eyes
Myths Around Mindfulness
- Mindfulness is not a religion. Mindfulness is simply a method of mental training.
- Mindfulness is not about criticism but rather observation.
- Mindfulness practice does not take a lot of time, although some patience and persistence are required.
- Mindfulness is not complicated. Nor is it about ‘success’ or ‘failure’. Even when it feels difficult, you’ll have learned something valuable about the workings of the mind.
- You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor. You can sit on a chair when practicing breathing techniques or bringing mindful awareness to whatever you are doing, on buses, trains or while walking to work. You can be mindful anywhere.
Mindfulness is not about achieving a goal nor is it about changing what you feel, what you think. It’s about being present. Mindfulness is the practice to open up to yourself more fully, and by doing so to embrace life more fully. By living life more fully, it brings more balance.
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