Practicing Mindfulness

December 1, 2023   |   Mental Health

You’ve probably heard about practicing mindfulness before but what exactly does it mean? In short, mindfulness means that you’re focusing on being rooted in the present moment. It sounds simple enough. But just like any skill, learning to be mindful takes practice and patience.

Purpose of Mindfulness

Overall, the idea behind mindfulness is being actively engaged with what’s happening and what you’re feeling. It can be very easy to go through the day on autopilot without paying much attention to your surroundings. Or, if there’s a lot going on in your daily life, your emotions may seem overwhelming. Practicing mindfulness gives you the chance to concentrate on the present and take an objective look at your thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean that you ignore your emotions or thoughts. Instead, the goal is to help you observe your inner processes without judgment. A crucial part of this is acknowledging that feelings and emotions are neither negative nor positive—they just are. Emotional responses come and go, so it’s important to recognize how fleeting and impermanent they can be. Being mindful provides a pause between a stimulus and reaction that allows you to better examine the situation and respond beneficially.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Over the years, there have been many studies investigating the benefits of mindfulness. These studies suggest that individuals who regularly engage in mindfulness techniques may experience benefits including:

  • Decreased anxiety and stress.
  • Increased sense of self-awareness.
  • Better quality of sleep.
  • Improved focus and mental clarity.
  • Reduced symptoms of depression.
  • Enhanced emotional regulation.

Getting Started with Being Mindful

Making mindfulness a part of your daily routine will take time and dedication. At first, you might want to try mindful meditation. Begin by picking a regular time every day and spend just one or two minutes meditating.

  • Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit.
  • Close your eyes and focus on breathing. As you breathe, pay attention to what you’re feeling. It could be the sensation of air filling your lungs, the texture of the chair you’re sitting on, or the sounds of the birds outside. The goal is to experience that moment.
  • Recognize there will be distractions. Frequently, these come in the form of your own thoughts or feelings. That’s okay! Acknowledge them and shift back to focusing on your breathing.
  • Increase your daily meditation time as you become more comfortable with it.

If meditation doesn’t work for you, other activities that encourage mindfulness include:

  • Gardening.
  • Knitting or crocheting.
  • Journaling.
  • Hiking or walking.
  • Reading.
  • Practicing yoga or tai chi.

You can also just take some time every hour or so to really focus on the moment and notice all the small things that are happening around you. Switching up routines or habits is another tactic that can help you stay present and recognize new things about your surroundings and/or feelings.

When it comes to becoming more in tune with your emotions and environment, a little mindfulness practice will go a long way. While it may take some time to incorporate these habits into your everyday life, you’ll find it easier and easier to live in the moment and appreciate every second of it.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise