Mindfulness is a state of being deliberately and actively present in the moment, acknowledging and accepting your thoughts and emotions. When you are mindful, you are paying attention to what is happening, both internally and outside of yourself, in the present moment. Your focus is on accepting your thoughts and feelings about what is occurring and how you are feeling, without judgment.
The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that has become a mainstream part of psychotherapy, providing stress reduction, self-control and concentration improvement. Some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness include:1
- An improvement in psychological and general well-being
- Stress relief
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improvement in sleep quality
- Decreased symptoms of depression
- Help with substance abuse issues
- Improved self-esteem
Techniques for Practicing Mindfulness
There are different ways to practice mindfulness. All of them can be applied to everyday situations.
You can sit quietly and focus on your breathing as you think of a specific word or mantra. This meditation can be done on its own or at the end of a yoga practice. You will allow your thoughts to drift by without judgment as you let them go and return your focus on the breath or mantra.
Another technique is to pay attention to any physical sensations you are feeling, without judgment, and then let the thoughts pass. Go over your entire body, being aware of each muscle, letting it relax and then releasing that focus as you pay attention to the next body part.
Mindfulness can also be sensory, as in noticing every sound, taste, odor and touch sensation in your environment, then leaving these impressions behind.
Let your emotions be present, without judgment. Be aware and name each emotion you are experiencing, and then let them be.
If you are experiencing cravings for drugs or alcohol following addiction treatment, you can use mindfulness techniques to cope. Note how your mind and body feel as the cravings come over you. Be mindful that you want the cravings to disappear, and then know with certainty that they will subside.
Daily Life Applications
You can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life to reap the benefits of living a happier, healthier life.
For instance, when you are performing a boring, routine task, like sweeping the floor, instead of doing this without thinking or while only thinking of being finished, pay careful attention to the movement of your arms and how it feels and sounds to whisk the floor clean.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, set the tone of the day by practicing meditation before you turn on the television or look at emails.
Instead of being attached to your phone or computer, let your mind wander every so often. You may be amazed at how relaxing and simultaneously stimulating this “daydream” state can be.
If you have to wait in line somewhere, bring yourself into a mindful state using a prompt, such as picturing an object that you’ve used to meditate on. It will be time well spent in relaxation.
You can learn meditation techniques through counseling, an instructor, or by trying out digital instructional materials. Mindfulness is important for reducing stress, removing distractions and improving overall focus.2