Being More Mindful May Be Easier Than You Realize
Mindfulness has made a lot of headlines recently, as researchers explore its benefits. But what is mindfulness, really, and how does it help?
When I first learned about mindfulness, 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.”
Research has shown that mindfulness can help in many areas, including:
Easing anxiety and stress
Reducing addictive behaviors, such as binge eating, and drug and alcohol abuse
Lowering the rate of pregnancy complications
Lessening the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Improving quality of life
You can learn more about the research on mindfulness at mindful.org.
How Mindfulness Helped Me
I’ve found that mindfulness helps me reduce the stress, and anxiety that come with everyday living. It’s 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
Making Mindfulness A Part of Daily Life
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 techniques:
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 when your mind wanders to the thoughts, plans and worries bring your focus back to the activity and your senses. Do this each day for at least a week.
Take two minutes, three times a day, to pay attention to your breath. Paying mindful attention to your breath, and bringing your attention back each time your thoughts wander, helps your mind and body relax.
Be kind to yourself at least once a day. We are so hard on ourselves, especially when we make mistakes. This causes us a lot of stress! Instead, when you make a mistake — we’re all perfectly imperfect — or you’re struggling with something, consider what you’d say to a good friend who is struggling. Now, try saying 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 I offer mindfulness groups for women and you can check out my blog. Please email or call me at 410-339-1979 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.