Although mindfulness has only recently been embraced by Western psychology, it is an ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now with openness, interest and receptiveness while focusing your mind on the present. It’s the art of paying attention to your life on purpose, without judgment.
Mindfulness interventions have been demonstrated to be beneficial for a number of psychological and physical conditions such as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addictions and personality disorders. It has also proven to be a powerful factor in reducing stress both in children and adults.
While it may sound easy, mindfulness does take practice but by reminding yourself to carve out moments of peace and stillness in the middle of a busy day, you can learn to master your mind and stay with this moment. Here are a few simple ways to start:
Sometimes five seconds of purposeful breathing can make all the difference. It brings more oxygen to our brain, it calms the body, and it can help to clear our head and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Make Your Routine Anything But
Begin paying attention to the small tasks you do every day. Pay attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower, reading to your child or riding on the bus. Focus on the sight, sound, smell, taste and feel of these activities.
On your way to the kitchen, school, the corner store or to and from your car, try slowing down. Walk with purpose, simply for the sake of walking. Breathe in and out and experience the sensation of your legs moving, your feet touching the ground, the air going into and out of your lungs.
Mindful While You Wait
There will always be a time when you’re waiting in line or stuck in traffic. Don’t get frustrated, use your waiting time as an opportunity for mindfulness. While you’re waiting, bring your attention to your breath. Focus on your surroundings, take stock of your blessings.
Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the things you’re grateful for. Even when things are difficult, you can be grateful for the challenges the difficulty offers.
Short and Sweet
Mindfulness in short, productive bursts can be more beneficial and more calming than trying to force yourself into lengthy meditative sessions. Even just a few minutes a day is a great way to gently ease yourself into the right mindset.
Mindfulness meditation may seem complicated when you’re just starting out but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simply a way of living life in the present moment without worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. It allows us to experience the present moment in all its aliveness and joy and with the ability to be comfortable and content with our own presence.