Mindfulness means to achieve a present moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environments. But more than that, it also involves noticing these things without judging them but simply observing and accepting them. Many studies have shown that this practice brings benefits to our physical, psychological and social well being. Some of these include a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression, less negative thinking and distraction, more compassion and an improved mood.
Here are a few ways that people can practice mindfulness:
*Do something normal and pay attention to your senses while doing it. For example, wash the dishes and notice what do you see – are there bubbles? what do you smell – how does the soap small? what do you feel – is the water warm or cold? In other words, use your 5 senses and notice the details.
* Pay attention to your breath. Sit quietly in a comfortable chair. Notice your breathing, the moving of your body, the feeling of the air moving in and out of your nostrils and throat, the way your abdomen expands and contracts.
*Observe your environment. Quietly look around where you are and describe in detail what you are seeing, hearing, smelling. What your chair is made out of, what is on the walls or what is the weather like. Just take a moment to notice.
* Scan your body. Start at the top of your head and notice any bodily sensations. Work your way down your body, paying attention to any feelings. How do your neck and shoulders feel, what about your hands? Is your back stiff or relaxed? What position are your legs in? Are your feet flat on the floor? Again, pay attention to your bodily sensations and try to relax any tense spots.
*The window exercise. Sit or stand by a window looking outside. Notice what is out there. This time, instead of labeling things, try to simply notice colors, patterns and textures. Look for things that are interesting or small details.
These activities don’t need to last long. But practicing mindfulness gives our minds short breaks from our daily planning, worrying, problem solving etc. This short mental vacation reduces stress and helps with relaxation. So, ENJOY and come up with your own ways of being mindful!
Written by Theresa Burback LCPC, CADC
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