“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” – Sylvia Boorstein
A bit about Mindfulness: 💜
Mindfulness gives us the power to pay attention to how we are feeling and what we are thinking without judging whether those thoughts or feelings are right or wrong. It allows us to fully experience life as we are living it and remain present, yet motivated.
Mindfulness is an important practice that can improve many areas of our lives, including relieving stress, addressing symptoms of disease, improving sleep and much more. Consider these powerful statistics about how mindfulness can positively affect our lives:
· According to a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital study, 93 individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder who were randomly assigned to an 8 week group intervention with mindfulness-based stress reduction had a significant reduction in their anxiety symptoms.
· The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that Mindfulness exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 73% of the time.
· A study published in Psychological Science found that, “cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide reaching consequences.”
And that is just a small glimpse at the power of mindfulness!
If you haven’t practiced mindfulness before, it can be intimidating. The good news is that we already have the tools we need to implement mindfulness activities in our lives.
Firstly, let’s discuss what mindfulness actually is. Being mindful simply means that you pay attention to what’s happening around you, what you’re doing, and the space that you’re moving through in the world. In a nutshell, mindfulness means being fully present with clarity, wisdom and kindness, not judgment or anger.
If this isn’t something that you already do on a regular basis, you can teach yourself mindfulness! You simply need to learn some small steps you can take that will help you cultivate mindfulness in any situation.
Here are a list of seven activities that will help you to learn the art of mindfulness. Best of all, they are simple and won’t take up much time in your day
1. Stretch. Stretch your arms and legs slowly, for 10 seconds each. Notice how it feels to move your muscles, notice any tightness, and enjoy the feeling. You may even want to find an easy stretching routine (for example on YouTube), to do each morning.
2. Deep Breathing. You have probably seen advice about deep breathing before, but that’s because it works! If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, deep breathing works to calm your nerves, but it also works to help you become aware of what’s going on around you. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths letting them out slowly. Breathe in through your nose, listening and feeling your breath moving in and out. Focus only on the breathing. If your mind starts wandering (and it probably will) just gently bring your attention back to your breath. Start by doing this for one minute, and extend your time as you practice
3. Chew slowly. Eating is something we often do too quickly, but it’s a good chance to connect with our body and enjoy what’s happening in the moment. Chew slowly, savoring the taste of your food and appreciating how you’re fueling your body. Not only is this better for your digestion, but you’ll also enjoy your meals and be more present at meal times with friends and family.
4. Scan your body. Sometimes we don’t really pay attention to our bodies until we’re alerted that something is wrong. Completing a body scan will help you tune into how you feel and what’s going on with your body.
5. Choose an affirmation. Affirmations have the power to change our thinking. Choose an affirmation that you can repeat to yourself that speaks to something you want for your life. Here are some examples:
I deserve happiness.
I am enough.
I appreciate my life.
I know and accept myself.
I am grateful for this day.
6. Coloring. It is amazing how relaxing and soothing coloring can be, even for adults! You can either let your mind wander or focus in on what you’re doing. It also allows you to exercise the part of the brain that improves focus and concentration.
7. Being outdoors gives you a ton of possibilities to take in stimulus around you. Take a walk or simply find somewhere comfortable to sit. Focus on everything around you - what you’re feeling, smelling, hearing. Appreciate the sun in your face or the wind or the sound of the birds.
- (Based on a web article from Health Coach Institute)