What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the state of active focus on the present moment. This means increasing your awareness of thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and your surrounding environment. It is also a process of being non-judgmental towards any type of thoughts, feelings, or sensations that occur during this practice. An example of this is sitting in comfortable position in a chair, allowing your eyes to close in order to focus, and pay close attention to what is happening. You will notice your breathing as the air comes in and out of your lungs. The feeling of sitting in a chair and noticing any sensations in your body such as a stiff neck or ruffled brow. You may also notice thoughts coming into your mind and it’s important to notice these thoughts come and go instead of forcing them out or trying to change them.
How Does It Help?
Many studies have found numerous positive effects from daily mindfulness. A few common benefits include:
- It lowers stress and anxiety.
- Improves focus with daily activities.
- Better relationships. Studies show couples are more optimistic and have a closer connection to each other.
- Increases positive emotions such as happiness.
- Increases density of gray matter in the brain linked to the areas of learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- It helps with cravings for alcohol and drugs. When we notice and acknowledge a craving, we see the craving pass as well, like a cloud drifting in the sky.
How Can I Start?
Many people avoid mindfulness practices because they do not have time. It is important to start small and implement mindfulness into your lifestyle. Starting small means 3-5 minutes a day (or less) of mindfulness. In terms of fitting it into your lifestyle, start by thinking about your daily routines and decide when a good time would be to include mindfulness. Some common times may be in the shower/bath, during a morning commute to work or school, cooking meals, gardening or a while going for a walk. It is important to pick an activity that is considered relaxing and routine, something that does not require a lot of thought.
How can you benefit from mindfulness in your day?