Are you mindful or is your mind just full? Are you practicing mindfulness? How do you tell the difference?
The mind is a great tool for problem-solving, but it’s not great at settling down and just focusing on what is going on right in front of you. Most of the time, your mind is wandering around in the past or the future rather than in the present.
That means it’s full of thoughts, stories, and narratives that don’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s actually happening at the moment.
In some cases, your mind may be caught up in stories that aren’t even based in reality. Mindfulness can offer respite from a busy mind, though it takes conscious intention and regular practice.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is letting your brain settle down, prioritize what’s important and release everything else. It is bringing awareness to your present experiences and emotions.
So, you want to learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day? Keep reading my friend because you’ve come to the right place.
How do I Practice Mindfulness?
A common misconception about mindfulness is that it must look like meditation; as in sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, slowly and quietly saying “Uhm mm”.
Yes, mindfulness can absolutely look like this, but it can also look like, laying outside on the grass, sitting down on the couch and journaling, or colouring in a book. As a matter of fact, even daydreaming can slow our thoughts down and bring calm to our brains.
The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
Actually, the benefits of mindfulness have been well-documented in research.
These can include:
- Improving cognitive ability
- Slowing brain aging
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms
- Increasing a sense of well-being
- Helping with pain management
- Improving quality of life for those living with chronic conditions
- Reducing fatigue
- Providing relief from digestive disorders
- Improving symptoms of sleep disorders
- Improving immune response
- Providing support for caregivers
Mindfulness Practice: how to do it!
The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to focus on the breath, resting your attention on the inhalation and exhalation repeatedly.
While it may be ancient in origin, this technique is just as fresh and relevant today. It can be practiced in almost any context as a way to continually bring your attention back to the present moment over and over.
Other Ways to Practice
Mindfulness is a very broad category, and the ways to practice are almost limitless.
You can try different techniques to see what works for you, like:
- Journal about what you are thinking and feeling in the moment, without self-judgement.
- Listen to or play music, really zoom in and feel the sounds.
- Unplug, go outside and explore nature.
- Just breathe, to return to the here and now.
- Say a positive affirmation or mantra, that is kind & compassionate.
- Sit with your emotions and remember they are like visitors passing through.
- Express gratitude for the things you are thankful for.
- Stretch or do yoga and notice the sensations in your body.
- Draw, doodle, or colour and focus on the process, not the end result.
- Focus on 3 things you see, hear and feel to help you feel grounded.
No matter what methods you use, it’s important to find ways to integrate your mindfulness practice into your life in ways that are meaningful and enjoyable to you. For more information please go to Building Brains.