Being mindful is more than just sitting in silence, or a pretty picture. Mindfulness transcends beyond emotions into daily decisions, and can help with our increased stress levels. Mindfulness combats illness, distractions, anxiety, and helps when we are depressed. What really are the benefits of engaging in mindful practice?
And can we do this during time crunches? Yes, but you need to read on!
First let's define what "mindfulness"since we hear this word a lot online.
The American Psychological Association explained that the term “mindfulness,” is a state of awareness and the practices promote this awareness. This is a way we process information. “We define mindfulness as a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
The APA suggested that research proves it is beneficial to people. Health is one of them. Practicing mediation boosts the immune system, the memory, intuition, helps with fear—along with helping relationships. This is not just limited to sitting still. Yoga and tai chi can also help you achieve these benefits. It is about attaining focus and clarity to help bring the body/mind under control or a better state.
“Researchers theorize that mindfulness meditation promotes metacognitive awareness, decreases rumination via disengagement from perseverative cognitive activities and enhances attentional capacities through gains in working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, contribute to effective emotion-regulation strategies.”
There is no right or wrong way to get started. You can begin by slowing down the mind for example, by unplugging from the world for five minutes to help listen and focus better. Try it and cut back social media. Take a walk, or just go sit in the car listening relaxing music. Being consistent doing this is better than gauging on success on how long you’ve been sitting there, or looking at the clock.
Try something like this up to five times a day, even if it is on a short walk, or eating on a lunch break. Exercises can also help you do a body scan. A body scan can help you release tension throughout the body. For example you can lie down for 10 minutes and become aware of the body and were tension resides. Mentally go to the spot like the neck or back where you could be feeling pain. Then, release the pain, and see the body healed.
Working on breathing will help you relax, and help the body, too. Find a place where you can relax. Focus on breathing the Mayo Clinic explained, and feel your breath move in and out of the body.
“Let your awareness of everything else fall away. Pay attention to your nostrils as air passes in and out. Notice the way your abdomen expands and collapses with each breath. When your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath.”
Practice paying attention to details like the ridges on the trunk of a tree, the pattern of the leaves, or the uniqueness of the clouds and their formation. The lesson here is to appreciate the small things, and embrace life without judgment and fault. Taking this approach will help you with people to be more patient. The more awareness, the more appreciation you offer to others and yourself!
Walking mindfulness is another way to get acquainted with slowing down. This can happen anywhere at the office, home, or at the airport. We talked about breathing. Pay attention and slow down your breathing, and breathe in and out. Gaiam Life shared:
“Walking on this planet is a joy. Mindful walking allows us to be aware of the pleasure of walking. We can keep our steps slow, relaxed, and calm. There is no rush, no place to get to, no hurry. Mindful walking can release our sorrows and our worries and help bring peace into our body and mind.”
There are judgments here. Try the above and find what works with you and your schedule. Try a little at a time, to see how you feel. But you need to make the commitment to your health and mind, it is worth it.