The ding of your phone as emails come in, planning tomorrow's activities or worrying over past mistakes, our minds are often battlegrounds of thoughts and information competing for our attention. This constant state of mental racing can leave us drained, anxious, and stressed. You've probably heard "mindfulness" mentioned as an alternative approach to dealing with the noise of our lives. But what does being mindful mean?
What is Mindfulness?
In Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses our minds to what is happening right now and choosing to not pass judgment on whatever thoughts or emotions arise.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Practicing meditation has multiple benefits, including helping to alleviate stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and even insomnia. Mindfulness in particular is also being explored for potential benefits to military personnel with traumatic brain injuries and even as treatment for internet gaming disorder. Potential applications for mindfulness are still being discovered, such as in the workplace to help avoid job burnout and work-related stress.
What does mindfulness look like in practice? While there are many ways to be mindful, here are a few approaches to get started:
Raisin Exercise – Take a raisin in your hand and encounter it as if you've never seen one before. How does it look? How does it feel? Pop it in your mouth. How does it taste? Slowly chew while focusing on the experience. By focusing on the raisin, you are forcing your mind to be present in the moment.
Mindful Breathing – Breathe in and out slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention as the breath goes in and out, giving your body life. Let your thoughts flow out with each breath.
Body Scan – Lie flat on your back. Close your eyes if this helps you focus. Become aware of where your body is pushing against the floor. Starting at the bottom of your feet, slowly bring your attention to each part of your body until you reach the top of your head.
Mindfulness is a simple practice to bring into your life with multiple potential benefits. Give mindfulness a try and experience the restfulness of living in the moment.
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