Mindfulness: Just Meditation or Much More?

Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. — Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Basics

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” (Mindful, 2020). Some examples of when mindfulness can be used are when we are seated, walking standing, moving around, laying down, taking short pauses during the day, and during meditation-like practices such as yoga or sports. Mindfulness can help us reduce stress, improve our performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our surroundings and our mind.

One misconception about mindfulness is that it’s only meant for when you’re doing yoga or meditation but that’s wrong, it can be done at anytime. It helps us develop more positive qualities and we don’t have to change our beliefs to use it. Plus it’s easy to do. You can also think of it as a way of living, you can practice it when doing everyday things this can helps us cut down needless stress. It helps make our lives just a little bit better. “Meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body” (Mindful, 2020).

When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions” (Mindful, 2020).

Practice

So here’s what you need to know about when practicing mindfulness; you don’t need to buy anything for it, you’re not going to be able to quiet your mind, it’s OK for your mind wander, the judgy side of your brain will probably take over, but it’s all about returning your attention to the present moment. You need to take those wandering thoughts and accept them and focus on what you’re doing. An example is of a chance to use mindfulness is folding clothes. It’s a mindless activity that we do and we can use it to help us destress throughout the day. When you’re folding clothes notice the texture, the softness, the patterns, the way your arms move effortlessly folding it, notice your breathing, the way your chest rises and falls. This will help ground you and give your mind a mental break from the busy day you’ve had until that moment.

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Daily Mindfulness Exercises

Mindful Wakeup:

  • Wake up, stretch if you want and sit in a relaxed position on your bed or a chair. Its your choice!
  • Take three deep breathes and just focus on the rising and falling of your chest
  • Ask what are your intentions for the day. Here are some prompts:
    • How can I have a big impact on today?
    • What quality of mind do I want to strengthen?
    • What do I need to take better care of myself?
    • During difficult moments, how can I be more compassionate to others and myself?
    • How can I feel fulfilled?
  • Set your intention(s)!
  • Check in with yourself throughout the day

Mindful Eating:

  • When choosing your meal or snack think about what you want and what your body deserves
  • Take some deep breathes before eating and ground yourself so you can be present during the meal
  • Eat according to your hunger levels
  • When eating close your eyes and focus on your chewing, the way the food tastes, the texture, and the way it travels down your throat
  • Take portioned bites so enjoy the food instead of mindlessly eating
  • Check in with yourself at the end of the meal and ask yourself how much you enjoyed your meal

Gratitude:

  • After you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night, write five to 10 things that you are grateful for.

Take a Pause

  • Take a moment throughout the day to check in with yourself. Ask yourself:
    • Have I met my set intention(s) for the day?
    • Do I need anything at this moment?
    • Should I take a refresher break and make a cup of tea/coffee/other drink?
    • Am I content with myself so far for today?

Cultural Views

Mindfulness has become a cultural sensation, coming from Buddhist practices it’s become incorporated into Western culture and praised for its benefits with mental health, burnout and stress management. Mindfulness has been adopted by many different disciplines in Western culture, whom has included it in various activities such as yoga and meditation but also included it in medical practices and educational systems. In the Buddhist culture mindfulness needs to be included in the religious practices due to it being the core focus because one needs to know the mind, train the mind, and free the mind in order to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness has been implemented within the mental health community and therapeutic approaches due to its studied and proven results. It allows the practitioner to create a sense of ease, grounding and being present in the moment. There is evidence that suggests it is beneficial for people struggling with depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, dissociation & dissociation disorders, ADHD/ADD, and the list goes on. It can also be implemented with any age group.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Let’s Try It!

Take this moment to try one or both of these mindfulness exercises:

Foot Grounding Exercise: You can do this sitting or standing, place your feet flat on the ground then breathe in for four seconds and exhale, counting to four. Repeat this three to five times.

Mindful Walking: Pay attention to your soles as you walk, with each step notice how your weight shifts from the center to the ball of your foot. Try to keep steady breathes while you do this exercise.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. – Amit Ray

References

Mindful. (2020). What is mindfulness?. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/

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