You may have been hearing a lot of buzz around “mindfulness” and wondering, what is it? Why should I care? And how would I practice it if I wanted to? Here’s the quick “What”, “Why” and “How” to get you started.
Psychology Today says Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of being consumed by thoughts of the past or planning for the future, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the current experience.
The benefits of mindfulness are broad reaching and plentiful. Helpguide.org categorizes the benefits as improved wellbeing, improved physical health and improved mental health, and has a long list of items for each. Everything from less worry and regret, to lower blood pressure, better sleep and fewer relationship conflicts. Plus, research has also shown improvement of more serious mental health challenges through mindfulness as well. And if that’s not enough, see our previous post on 3 Reasons to Start Mindfulness Meditation.
Inc.com has come up with 3 Ways to Work Meditation Into Your Busy Day and they’re really very simple: walking meditation, eating meditation, and my favorite– “the social media swap out”.
Walking meditation: If you take time for a 10-15 minute walk during your day, you have already carved out the time to begin your mindfulness practice. Next time you take a walk, focus your attention on your breath, of the sound of crunching leaves or gravel under your feet, of the sounds of the birds in the trees or even the traffic whirring by. Whatever is around you, allow your senses to fully register the sights, sounds and smells so you are more fully present in the moment.
Eating meditation: Good news, everyone takes time to eat! So there are no excuses here! When you eat, instead of multi-tasking or rushing through your meal, focus all your energy on truly tasting, feeling, and enjoying your food. Notice the shapes and colors of each item on your plate, feel the texture in your mouth, and take in the satisfaction of refueling your body. You don’t need to keep this up for the entire meal, but use it every now and then to focus your attention.
The Social Media Swap Out: For many of us, the first free moment we have is filled with a visit to our favorite social media site to see what’s happening with our friends, or publications we’re following, top headlines etc. Resist the urge to fill up your only free moments with more chatter. Instead, “turn your attention to the sensations in your mind and body. How do you feel? What can you hear? Wherever you are, try to be as present in that moment as possible. If your mind wanders off to tasks that you have to complete or starts working over things that happened yesterday, let these go. Gently bring your mind’s focus back to the present.”
Like anything, mindfulness takes practice. And having a teacher always helps. Check out our Fostering Mindfulness Through Guided Meditation series with Davidji (pictured below), world renowned author, speaker and lead educator at The Chopra Center. And please share your experiences with practicing mindfulness in the discussion on our work life balance forum.