What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the awareness that occurs through paying attention, in a specific way, on purpose, and in a nonjudgmental way, to what happens during an experience in the current moment. Mindfulness is being in the present with a focused state of mind. Mindfulness has shown to help people cope with life’s difficulties and improve well-being.
So how do you implement mindfulness?
1. Become Aware and Turn Off Auto Pilot
Have you felt that you lived your life tuned out with your mind on auto pilot? For instance, auto pilot can occur while driving to work in morning but not paying attention to things, such as trees, buildings, and nature because your mind is programmed to follow the same path to work. Instead, your mind may be focused on past or future life concerns. One way to start turning off auto pilot is saying to yourself, “I want to be present in this moment.” This can help clear your mind of past and future thoughts so you can better notice the experience of that moment.
2. Use Mindfulness Eating
Mindfulness eating can be beneficial to your sense of taste, weight management and awareness of food. A way to practice mindfulness eating can be explored though using the “raisin activity”. To try this activity, obtain a single raisin and use your senses. For example, hold a raisin in your hand and feel the texture of it, then smell the raisin, focus on the scent, and then taste the raisin by slowly taking a few chews to absorb the flavor. After the activity, ask yourself the following two questions: What did you notice about the raisin? How is this different from how you usually eat? Once implemented, mindfulness eating can be used during meals and can help you in a number of ways. Can you see how that can help?
3. Scan Your Body
A body scan is a form of mindfulness meditation that can make you aware of the emotional and physical stressors you may be feeling within your body that you otherwise have more difficulty identifying. To start this meditation, it is best to be in a quiet environment. You may want to introduce peaceful music to enhance your meditation experience. To begin, focus on your body, starting from your toes on the left foot, slowly moving to focus on your left foot and leg, then, the right side of your body’s toes, foot, and leg. Then move your focus onto your hips, stomach, chest, left arm to fingers, and right arm and fingers. Then, end your focus from your neck and face to the top of your head. While scanning your body, try to focus on each section for about 10 seconds. This technique may help you feel calmer and identify certain areas within your body that may need more attention.
4. Use Mindfulness of Breath
This is another form of mindfulness meditation that can help you become more aware of your body and what you may be feeling. To implement this exercise, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale for 10 seconds, hold for 10 seconds, and then exhale slowly for 10 seconds. Repeat this breathing exercise three times or as needed. Mindfulness of breath is beneficial in lowering anxiety, stress, and anger.
5. Try Mindfulness of Pleasant Event
Another way of becoming more mindful and in tune with your body and mind is to focus on one pleasant event that you participate in every day. What is a pleasant event for you? For some people, it may be taking a walk in the morning, or taking an evening walk. It might be taking a bath, or listening to music. Once you identify your own personal pleasant event, try taking a mindful approach to it. This will allow you to be more present during the pleasant event and notice sensations within your body and mind making the event even more enjoyable.
6. Try Mindfulness of Unpleasant Event
Similarly to the previous strategy, ask yourself what is an unpleasant event in your daily routine. For some people it may be having to do the laundry or washing the dishes. When you become mindful during an unpleasant event, you will start to be more aware of your task and feel less stress or unease during this situation.
7. Do Yoga
Yoga is a recognized mindfulness activity that can provide benefits and improve your physical and mental health. It involves breathing exercises, meditation and different body postures, Yoga has been shown to help reduce chronic pain, stress, depression, and generalized anxiety.
8. Use Sitting Meditation
Sitting mediation is a form of mindfulness where you sit in a comfortable and quiet place in an upright position. During this activity, you can focus on a discomfort in your life. For example, for some people this may be a difficult life decision or event. It is best to start with something minor that causes discomfort. Once you have chosen your discomfort, find a quiet place to sit down and focus only on the thought. Staying with this one thing will allow what is called an “exposure effect.” Allowing your body and mind to become more aware of this discomfort and understand it. It is important to hold the difficulty lightly within your body and mind, and not try to fix or analyze the discomfort. While holding the discomfort lightly, take long breaths during this meditation process. This exercise teaches that you do not have to struggle to avoid difficulties and it can help lessen anxiety.
9. Practice Active Listening
Active listening occurs when you listen carefully to what is being said. This will allow your body and mind time to process what was said, and then you can reply in a thoughtful and intentional manner. This practice can be beneficial in various relationships in your life. Active listening can improve communication in your romantic, social and work relationships.
10. Stay Within The Moment
The greatest positive aspect about becoming mindful in your life is staying within the moment. Whether it is watching your favorite television show, working at your job, walking your dog, or going out to dinner with a loved one, mindfulness will enhance your experience. Practice being present in any moment with yourself and the company around you. This will allow you to have a more enjoyable time and focus on what is present in front of you.
Practicing mindfulness can improve your life. By being in the present, you can enjoy the pleasures in life and understand adverse experiences. Mindfulness can help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression while helping to improve your overall health.
Suggestions for further information:
Burch, V., & Penman, D. (2013). Mindfulness for health: a practical guide to relieving pain, reducing stress and restoring wellbeing. London: Piatkus.
Sears, R. W. (2014). Mindfulness: living through challenges and enriching your life in this moment. London, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
Teasdale, J. D., Williams, J. M. G., Segal, Z., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2014). The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress. New York: The Guilford Press.
22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities for Adults. (2019, August 26). Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/
Getting Started with Mindfulness. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/
Mindfulness. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/mindfulness