Advocates believe mindfulness can help with everything from anxiety and depression to chronic pain and high blood pressure. If you’re curious about how to get started with mindfulness, maybe it’s time for you to learn more about this increasingly popular form of self-care.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation in which you focus on being present in the moment, without judgment. This means being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without getting caught up in them. Mindfulness can help you better manage stress, anxiety, and negative emotions.
Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the present moment. You can also try a more formal practice, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). If you’re new to mindfulness, you can do a few things to get started.
Sit Quietly and Focus on Your Breath
One of the simplest ways to start practicing mindfulness is sitting quietly, stopping thinking, and focusing on your breath. Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention to your breath. Don’t worry if you can’t seem to focus or if your mind keeps wandering. Just keep coming back to the present moment.
Start with 5 minutes a day and work up to longer periods as you get more comfortable with the practice. You can also try mindfulness meditation apps, such as Headspace or Buddhify, which can help you get started with mindfulness.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings
Another way to practice mindfulness is to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, without any judgement. Simply notice what you’re thinking and feeling, without trying to change it.
If you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to the present moment. Again, don’t worry if you can’t seem to focus or if your mind keeps wandering. You will learn how to better control your thoughts with practice.
Observe Your Senses
Mindfulness isn’t just about thoughts and emotions. You can also use mindfulness to focus on your senses and the world around you.
Start by focusing on one sense at a time, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch. For example, you might focus on the sights and sounds around you, such as the clouds in the sky or the birds singing. Or you might focus on the taste of your food or the feel of your clothes.
The key is to really pay attention to the sensations you’re experiencing. Don’t just go through the motions; really try to experience everything around you.
You can also try a mindfulness exercise called the Five Senses Meditation. This involves focusing on all of your senses, one at a time. Better yet, try it with a friend or loved one.
Move Your Body Mindfully
Mindfulness isn’t just about sitting still. You can also use mindfulness to become more aware of your physical sensations. You can also be mindful of your movements, such as walking, eating, or even brushing your teeth.
Start by moving slowly and paying attention to the sensations in your body. For example, you might notice the feel of your feet on the ground or the sensation of your clothes on your skin. As you move, try to keep your attention focused on the present moment — don’t let your mind wander.
You can also try a mindfulness exercise called the Body Scan. This involves lying down and focusing on different parts of your body, from your toes to your head. As you scan your body, pay attention to any physical sensations you’re experiencing, such as tension or pain.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is another simple way to start practicing mindfulness. When you eat mindfully, you’re paying attention to the experience of eating, from the moment you see your food to the moment you feel satisfied.
To eat mindfully, start by choosing a food that you really enjoy, such as a piece of fruit or a chocolate bar. Take a moment to really look at your food and notice its color, texture, and smell. Then take a small bite and pay attention to the taste and texture of the food. Chew slowly and savor the flavor of the food. As you eat, pay attention to your hunger level and stop when you’re no longer hungry.
You can also try a mindfulness exercise called the Raisin Meditation. This involves taking a single raisin and focusing on all of its sensory qualities, from the way it looks to the way it tastes.
Get Some Sleep
Mindfulness can also be used to improve your sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try the Body Scan. As you scan your body, pay attention to any physical sensations you’re experiencing, such as tension or pain.
When you’re finished with the Body Scan, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe deeply and slowly, and pay attention to the sensation of your breath going in and out. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
You can also try a mindfulness exercise called the Three-Minute Breathing Space. This involves taking three deep breaths and focusing on the sensation of your breath going in and out. After each breath, take a moment to notice how you’re feeling.
The Bottom Lines
Mindfulness is a simple and powerful tool that can help you reduce stress, improve your sleep, and boost your overall health. And the best part is that anyone can learn how to be mindful.
Start practicing mindfulness today, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier, and calmer life.