One phenomenon that has been making waves is mindfulness. Everyone, from the therapists at Regain.us to spiritual gurus are seeing its many benefits. If you’ve heard of mindfulness, but are unsure of what it is, this article will be a quick guide into the world of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
If you decide to look up what mindfulness is, you may run into many different definitions. Some will describe mindfulness in a more flowery way, while others may have a more straightforward approach. To put it simple, mindfulness is having full awareness of the present and your surroundings.
At first, you may wonder, “But I live in the present. What are you talking about?” But then you realize what we mean.
Few people truly live in the present. Their thoughts are cluttered with worries about the future, regrets of the past, and very little dedication to their current surroundings. Mindfulness allows you to be aware of what is going on around you in the present and be more aware of your surroundings.
When you’re mindful, you start to notice every little detail. You’ll see the subtle ways the wind moves the objects around you. You’ll be aware of what’s going on inside your body a bit more. You’ll be able to hear and see things you didn’t notice when you were less mindful.
Mindfulness has been practiced since the days of ancient Buddhism, with many religions having elements of being mindful. However, more secular people are also seeing the benefits of mindfulness. You do not need to have a certain religion, or be religious at all, to reap the benefits of mindfulness.
Health Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has many health benefits attached to it. Here are just a few of them.
- Mindfulness may help you reduce your anxiety and depression. When you are anxious, you tend to panic about the what ifs and suffer from your brain going into overdrive. Mindfulness takes a calming approach, reducing your anxiety symptoms and making you overall feel better. The same applies to depression, where you can reduce your self-defeating thoughts and be able to combat other symptoms of depression such as insomnia or apathy.
- Mindfulness can help you stop worrying so much about the future and past. There are reasons to think about the future and prepare for it, but too many people spend their time worrying about the things in life that haven’t happened yet. On the other hand, thinking about the past and learning from it is a good thing too, yet too many people spend their time regretting the past when they should look to the present.
- Mindfulness can help reduce your stress levels. Some levels of stress are important to help keep you motivated, but too many times, we are overstressed and this makes us end up being counterproductive.
- Mindfulness can help with your heart health. That’s right. Since mindfulness can reduce your blood pressure, your overall heart health improves.
- You may be able to sleep better because of mindfulness. Too many people are kept awake by their racing thoughts and feelings. Being mindful means easier sleep and an overall improvement of your mental health, which is always a plus.
- Being mindful can help you get along with others. You can have friendlier relationships with your spouse, your children, and your peers. This is because mindfulness allows you to let go of the past and instead look to the future. This is a good incentive for many.
- Mindfulness can help you be more productive. Too many times, we are distracted and don’t get our jobs or tasks done. Mindfulness helps you up the productivity and thus allows you to be much better about getting the job done.
Does it Work?
You may wonder if mindfulness works, or if it’s just a bunch of pseudoscience. As it turns out, mindfulness has plenty of evidence to back it up. So many people are seeing the benefits, and it’s a common tool that counselors use to help treat their clients. You don’t need to see a pro to be more mindful, though. Here are some ways you can improve your overall mindfulness.
There are hundreds of ways to improve your mindfulness. We obviously cannot list them all, the different techniques work for different people. Here are a few common techniques to get you started.
The Body Scan
The body scan is a popular mindfulness technique, and it’s done in many different ways. The most common way is for you to lie down and start feeling your body from head to toe. Pay attention to little movements in your body.
If there is a spot that is sore, focus on it a little more and see if you can figure out its source. Imagine the energy flowing from your head to your toe and do this for bit.
Breathing Exercises and Meditation
Controlled breathing and meditation are two other popular ways to be more mindful. There are many breathing exercises out there for you to try. The important thing is that you pay attention to your breathing and imagine it entering and leaving your body, but not before giving it life.
Meditation involves you discarding any thoughts and instead focusing on the world around you. The perfect way for you to be more mindful.
This is a good activity to do with your kids if you have them. One way you can be more mindful is to practice your sense of feeling. Put three textured items in a box and have your kid or yourself feel them without looking. Really pay attention to their shape, texture, and imagine what that object can be. Then, take a look. Did you guess right? If not, then how can you improve.
You can use the same exercise for items that smell or any other sense as well. We say to try it out and see what you can come up with.
Paying Attention to Your Surroundings
A simple, yet effective way you can be more mindful is to take a walk. It can be around the neighborhood, or you can immerse yourself in nature.
Either way, start paying attention to the tiny little details. If you’re in nature, look at all the plants and pay attention to all the differences. Look at how the branches of the trees spread out. Watch the interactivity that animals have with each other. You can be able to notice things that you may not have noticed before. Try it out.
These are a few mindfulness techniques that you can do, and you can try them out how you see fit.
If you can’t get into the mindful state, there is hope. Anyone can be mindful, but the journey to mindfulness has different roads for different people. Turn to a counselor who specializes in mindfulness. They can help you find out the way you can be more mindful for yourself.
Mindfulness is something everyone should try, especially in a world that is more and more demanding. Just take a deep breath and let those self-defeating thoughts go. Doesn’t it feel good?