3 Easy Ways To Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Life

What is Mindfulness And How Does It Help?

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has made a lot of headlines recently, as researchers explore its benefits. When I first learned about it, I thought that you had to go on a retreat and live in silence for weeks at a time to become mindful. In reality, mindfulness just means paying attention to what is here and now, instead of constantly thinking about the past or future events. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of the mindfulness movement in the United States, described mindfulness as, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”

Here are a few areas where research has shown that mindfulness can help:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Addictive behaviors, such as binge eating, and drug and alcohol abuse
  • Pregnancy complications
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Quality of life

You can learn more about the research on mindfulness here.

How Mindfulness Has Helped Me

I’ve found that mindfulness helps reduce the stress, and anxiety that comes with everyday living. It has also helped me:

  • Be more present and attentive when listening to others
  • Be more aware of my immediate surroundings, like seeing the sunlight coming through the window, or feeling a breeze on my face
  • Feel more grateful for what is, instead of worrying about what might be

How To Practice Mindfulness In 3 Easy Steps

If you worry a lot, you feel like your mind is stuck in the “on” position, or you just want to bring more mindful attention to your life try these easy ways to bring mindfulness into daily living:

Mindfulness can ease stress and anxiety
  1. Pick one daily activity to pay mindful attention to. Pick something that takes only a few minutes to complete, such as brushing your hair or teeth, putting on make-up, taking a shower, watering your plants, or patting your dog or cat. Intentionally, pay close attention to what you see, hear, smell, feel and taste for whatever activity you chose. And do this each day for a week — or more!
  2. Take three minutes, a few times a day, to listen attentively. First focus on sounds in the room- a clock ticking, a phone ringing.... Then broaden your attention to the sounds outside the room, you might hear someone talking or a door closing. Lastly, broaden your attention even further and listen for sounds outside your home. Maybe you hear a dog barking, fire engines going by, or the wind blowing. Then gradually bring your attention back to where you are. You can do this with your eyes open, with a softened gaze, or closed.
  3. Be kind to yourself at least once a day. We are so hard on ourselves, especially when we make mistakes. This can cause a lot of stress. Instead,when you make a mistake, or are struggling with something, consider what you would say to a good friend who is struggling. And then say that to yourself, with compassion.

If you would like to more ideas on how to become more mindful, or how mindfulness can ease your stress and anxiety check out Biz's Blog, listen to my guided meditations, or call me at 410-340-8469 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LCPC, is an Annapolis counselor helping people manage their stress and anxiety. Progression Counseling has offices in Arnold and Annapolis.  Call 410-340-8469.

Photos by: Tim Bogdanov and Andrew Pons @ unsplash.com