Our minds keep getting distracted, our thoughts run in all directions, and we often struggle to appreciate the present moment because we are busy doing several things at once and worry too much. Practicing mindfulness means interrupting this process and taking in the present for what it is. It is essential for a calmer mind, for taking a step back and reflecting on what really matters.
“Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices that are described in detail in the Buddhist tradition.” – Wikipedia’s article on Mindfulness
I am not saying that we should all become monks and meditate several hours a day in silence! What I am saying, however, is that it is important to slow down for 5 minutes a few times a day in order to simply be. There are several easy techniques to do that, and that’s exactly what I will teach you below.
As usual, I am only bringing you concepts that are extensively backed by research. Mindfulness has been used for decades in medicine, and psychology practices (If you want to read about the research and mindfulness applications you can find it here), and can be used to achieve a healthier and more fulfilled state of mind.
So, how do we practice mindfulness? Some people have achieved mindfulness through specific meditation or through group therapy sessions (mostly used in psychiatry), but there are ways to integrate mindfulness in every day that don’t take extra time and that people like you and me can easily apply. Below is a description of some practices to become more mindful:
The following resources are recommended by psychologists as a guided meditation to start practicing mindfulness. Once you become comfortable with the concept you can make up your own scenarios, however, at first, it is useful to have a professional guide us trough the process. It usually takes 5-10 minutes and you can practice it when walking, waiting for a bus or in a waiting room, or when you take a hot bath (that’s what I like best)… basically, whenever you have a few extra minutes.
The following is a conscious-eating meditation. Try it whenever you are eating alone.
- Sit down in front of your food and take several deep breaths in. Notice the color, shape and texture. Whatever you’re feeling, notice it.
- Be aware of your intention to begin eating. Start eating slowly. As you do this, make a quiet mental note of your actions. By labeling your actions you are more likely to keep in mind your purpose – to stay aware.
- Take a moment to smell the meal.
- As you take your first bite, feel your teeth penetrating the food, how the food is positioned in your mouth and where your tongue is.
- Begin chewing slowly and notice every taste and every motion that your body does. When you swallow, try to be aware of the muscles in your esophagus as they contract and relax to push the food to your stomach. Notice the sensation in your stomach.
- As you continue to eat your meal, try to be aware of as many sensations as you can. Silently label every movement if it helps. Try eating with the hand you don’t normally use, because the awkwardness may serve as a reminder to pay attention. As with basic meditation, when thought arise, notice them and then return your attention to your food.
Most people cover miles in the course of their daily routines. This makes walking a good opportunity to practice mindfulness. Focus on the act of walking much the same way as you focus on your breath in sitting meditation. Try this one:
The hardest part about mindfulness is to let go of our thoughts. Every time your mind wanders during your mindfulness practice, notice it, and gently bring your attention back.
Practicing mindfulness is the reason I like Sarah Turner’s Sound Healing sessions. It allows me to connect with my own Self and let go of all my thoughts and just be… still and quiet.
Stay mindful ❤