Mindfulness is a term that is becoming more and more popular these days. It is defined as the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment.
But, what does being present in the moment actually mean? And more importantly, how can it benefit you?
In this article, learn what is mindfulness. Discover some of the benefits of being mindful, both mentally and physically.
By the end of this post, find some examples to better understand mindfulness. Also, learn some techniques so you can practice mindfulness.
To start, let's define mindfulness.
In This Article
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. The goal of mindfulness is to help you have present-focused awareness, which allows you to have better control over your emotions.
When you're mindful, you have an increased awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. You do so without any judgment. And by "without judgment," we mean you're not trying to figure out if something is good or bad.
As a result, it helps you to have more control over your emotions. It enables you to be more calm, peaceful, and less stressed out in unfavorable situations.
This lets you act more thoughtfully and intentionally in your life.
To better understand mindfulness, let's take a look at some examples below.
Your spouse snapped at you earlier. Your first reaction is to get hurt by his behavior. You're worried that you may have done something to anger him.
When you're mindful, you would reflect rather than react in this situation. When you're aware of the present moment, you could've realized that your spouse mentioned having problems at work. So, it's not really your fault that he was upset.
You're at work, and you've been working on a project for the past few hours. You've been feeling frustrated with it because it's not going well. Many people would continue to feel frustrated and probably work even longer on the project.
However, a mindful person would take a break from the project. You would allow yourself to step away from it and assess the situation. Maybe, you're not working well because you're tired. Or maybe, the project isn't going well because you need more information before continuing.
You're at the grocery store waiting in line. The person in front of you is taking longer than normal, which has made your wait time longer. You begin to feel more and more irritated as you continue to wait. You consider leaving the line and going somewhere else.
When you're mindful, you would be aware of how you're feeling and why. In this case, you may realize that your irritation is stemming from being hungry. So, once you've finished shopping, you'll make sure to grab a snack before heading home.
See what's common in the mindfulness examples above?
When you’re living in the moment, you get to see things from a different perspective. You don't let your emotions have control over you. Instead, you reflect on the present moment before taking action.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Below are some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness regularly:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Mindfulness allows you to experience the present moment without judgment. This can help reduce your stress levels since you're not worried about things that may or may not happen in the future.
Increase your productivity
When you're mindful, you're more focused and less distracted. This is because you're not letting your thoughts wander. As a result, you'll be able to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently.
Since you're not as reactive, you don't get defensive when someone disagrees with you. Mindfulness helps to improve communication because both parties are heard and understood.
Mindfulness helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and other negative emotions that can be disruptive at night. With better control over your emotions, you'll get a good night's rest without any distractions.
When practicing mindfulness, your mind isn't wandering off all over the place. Instead, you're able to pay attention to one thing at a time without getting distracted by anything around you.
Mindfulness helps you to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. This allows you to make better decisions in life because you're not acting based on emotions.
The benefits above can help improve your overall well-being, which leads to a happier life in general. Mindfulness also lets you appreciate the small things in life, which can make you feel more content.
How to Practice Mindfulness: 3 Simple Exercises
Now that you know what mindfulness is and some of its benefits, let's discuss how you can start practicing it daily. Below, learn three simple mindfulness exercises you can do at home or work:
Meditation is the most popular way to practice mindfulness. This is a simple practice that allows you to focus on your breathing, thoughts, and feelings.
To start meditating:
- Find a quiet place where there won't be any distractions. Once it's time for meditation, make sure you're comfortable before beginning.
- Sit in a chair or cross-legged on the ground with your spine straight.
- Then, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Notice the air as it goes in and out of your nose.
- Then, feel the sensations in your body. Let your thoughts and emotions flow without judgment.
- Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, and let them all pass. Doing so allows you to better deal with uncomfortable situations without reacting.
- If you notice that your mind has wandered, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
- Do this for five to ten minutes to start with.
You can also practice mindfulness during other activities, such as eating, walking, or exercising. You can try to focus on one activity at a time without being distracted by your surroundings or thoughts.
The Body Scan
In this technique, your aim is to focus on each part of your body. You do this by going through each part of your body and paying attention to them. This can help reduce tension and stress if there are any areas that feel tight.
To start the body scan:
- Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed by anything or anyone around you. Make sure you're comfortable before beginning.
- Begin by focusing on your feet and work your way up to the top of your head. This is known as a downward body scan. You can also start at the top of your head if you prefer an upward body scan, or do both for a full-body experience!
- As you go through each part of the body, pay attention to how it feels. If you notice any tension, focus on relaxing the muscles in that area until they feel more loose and relaxed.
- Recognize those feelings without reacting.
- As always, if your mind wanders off while doing this exercise just bring it back to its original position.
- Continue until you have run through each part of your body.
5 Senses Exercise
This exercise involves paying attention to your five senses. Use your senses to notice things and observe your experience in the present time.
To start this exercise:
- Find a quiet place where there won't be any distractions, and make sure you're comfortable before beginning.
- Focus on the sounds around you for 15 seconds without reacting to them or judging what they are. Simply notice each sound as it occurs without thinking.
- Then, bring your attention to the tastes in your mouth. Notice how they feel without judging or reacting to them.
- Next, focus on what you're touching, such as the clothing against your skin. Feel the texture and temperature of each sensation without judging it or trying to change anything about it.
- Move onto visual sensations by paying attention to what you see around you. Notice the colors, shapes, and sizes of everything without reacting to them or trying to change anything.
- Finally, focus on smells in your environment for 15 seconds. Notice each scent and how it makes you feel without judgment or reaction.
- When you're finished, take a few minutes to reflect on what you experienced. Notice how your thoughts and feelings shifted throughout the exercise, and what you learned about yourself.
Mindfulness allows you to focus on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions in the present moment.
It can be learned in a variety of ways, such as through meditation, body scans, or the five senses exercise.
Practicing mindfulness may take time, dedication, and patience, but it will pay off in many ways if you stick with it.
If you wish to enjoy the benefits of mindful living, such as improved mental health and wellbeing, try these mindfulness exercises today!