The word mindfulness is thrown around a lot, but do you really know what it means? In simple terms, mindfulness is the process of staying open and attentive to what is going on in the present. Instead of letting your life pass you by, you are living in the moment and truly awake to the experiences going on around you. Various studies have found that mindfulness can have a profound effect on your health and wellness. From decreasing your stress level to increasing self-awareness and body awareness to helping you regulate your emotions and attention levels, the benefits are endless.
Of course, achieving mindfulness is often easier said than done. In a world where we are constantly on autopilot, practicing mindfulness meditation throughout the day provides the perfect opportunity to gain the rewards of mindfulness. Here’s a quick look at how to get started practicing mindfulness meditation.
According to Unplug Meditation (a L.A. studio that offers guided meditation classes on a drop-in basis) founder Suze Yalof Schwartz it only takes three seconds to get back into your body. Although we breathe constantly, we rarely stop to think about it. However, taking the time to concentrate on breathing in and out can immediately cause your mind to snap back to attention. For a more intense experience, dedicate five or ten minutes to guided mediation each day.
2. Choose your reminder technique.
Charlene Richard, a psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher, reports that one of the best ways to achieve mindfulness is by attaching it to something you do routinely. This helps you remember to practice. For example, she attaches mindfulness to putting on lip balm. The four or five times a day she does this, she takes the time to take a few deep breathes, while tuning into what it feels like to put the lip balm on and focusing on its texture and smell.
3. Truly enjoy sensory experiences.
The key to mindfulness involves recognizing the small moments during the day that grab your senses and make you feel a sense of pleasure. This may be eating a great meal, listening to music in the car, and taking a hot shower. For example, if you are eating, smell and look over the food, taking the time to truly enjoy its shape, color, and texture. When chewing, consider all the flavors and how it feels in your mouth before you swallow. Pay careful attention to all the little details that you normally don’t give a second thought to.
4. Take advantage of the daily drudge.
Whether you are standing in line at the coffee shop or sitting in traffic, use this as an opportunity to practice. These mindless moments are often frustrating, but taking the time to slowly breathe in and out can make everything better. Tap into what it going on around you from the sounds to the sights and smells. Focus your attention and if you start to find your mind wandering, reel it back in.
Once you get into the practice of achieving mindfulness, you’ll find it easy to achieve this state and you’ll also notice an improvement in your overall health and well-being.
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