WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and the world around you and accepting what is without judgment. By focusing on the 'here and now' you are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past.
The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism. It is a technique that helps shift your thoughts away from the mind's constant chatter towards an appreciation of the present moment. Meditation and mindfulness can go hand in hand. If you want to learn more about meditation then go to
It can be really difficult to be mindful in today's hectic world where everything is so busy and with so much vying for our attention. Learning how to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment can bring a sense of calm amongst the chaos and is valuable for reducing stress and improving overall happiness and well-being.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
The key to mindfulness is simply taking the time to experience your environment with all of your five senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. When you eat your favourite food take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it. When taking a walk pay attention to all of your senses. You can practice being mindful whilst undertaking the most mundane of tasks such as washing up. When your attention is focused on your senses in the moment your mind is free from stressful thoughts.
When you notice your thoughts drifting, which they invariably will, accept it and bring your mind back to the present. Once you are able to pay attention, you can practise self-awareness and self-management of your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and how you respond to situations. You will also find that you have a bit more compassion and empathy towards others.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS?
Practising mindfulness can have benefits for mind, body and spirit and bring positive changes to overall health and wellbeing, attitudes, and behaviours. The benefits include:
- lower stress levels
- reduced anxiety
- resilience against depression
- deal with adverse events better
- lower blood pressure
- improved sleep
- Improve weight loss
- improve attention
- increase creativity
- help reduce pain
- alleviate digestive issues
- help with addictions and eating disorders
- increase pleasure in life
- improve relationships by making you more thoughtful.
WHEN SHOULD I PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
Simple mindfulness exercises can be practised anywhere and anytime, what really matters is consistent and regular practise. You can try being mindful for short periods of time such as in the supermarket queue, at a traffic lights, in the shower, falling asleep, walking etc. Engaging your senses outdoors is especially beneficial.
First thing in the morning is a good time to practice as a few minutes of mindfulness can bring calm and give you energy for the day ahead. Also at the end of the day a few mindful deep breaths before you go to bed can help you sleep more soundly and stop you worrying about the next day.
How long to practice mindfulness for is up to you but try as many times as you can during the day. For more structured mindfulness meditation exercises such as body scan meditation or sitting meditation, you'll need to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions. Early in the morning before you begin your daily routine is best and you should aim for around 20 minutes.
MINDFULNESS TAKES PRACTICE
Mindfulness takes practice and effort. No one is good at it when they first start. Your mind is likely to wander repeatedly. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you have trouble focusing, it is completely normal. With practice and patience you will get better. Eventually you will find that you are living a more mindful life and enjoying the benefits of reduced stress, better mental health, better relationships, and greater overall happiness.
When you first get started it is easy to forget to practise so try setting reminders on your phone or stick up post it notes to remind you a few times daily to take a couple of breaths and be more mindful of what you are doing in the present moment.
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