Mindfulness has become a popular technique in treating various mental illnesses like anxiety or symptoms resulting from a traumatic event. The purpose of mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of an individual’s bodily sensations, feelings, thoughts, and sounding environment, through a gentle and nurturing lens. Mindfulness has roots in Buddhist meditation, but it has become a secular practice in mainstream American practices. There are different ways to practice mindfulness and it is important to discover what works best for each individual. For a quick video about mindfulness visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoLQ3qkh0w0&feature=youtube.
Mindfulness at its core can be described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). It has been proposed as a form of professional development to manage the demands of teaching (Roeser et al., 2012). Mindfulness has been empirically associated with psychological well-being. Mindfulness has the ability to exert beneficial effects on physical health, mental health, and cognitive performance (Tang & Leve, 2016). The elements of mindfulness, have been found potentially effective against common forms of psychological distress like rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, and anger (Hayes & Feldman, 2004). Mindfulness involves an acceptance, meaning that an individual must pay attention to their feelings and thoughts without judgement. It involves believing there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in any given moment. By practicing mindfulness, an individual can live in the moment and not relive the past or imagine what can occur in the future.
What Mindfulness is Not!
- Not a relaxation exercise
- Not a way to avoid difficulty
- Not a way to by-pass personality problems
- Not about achieving a different state of mind
What Mindfulness is About
- Being present to an individual’s experiences however distressing or upsetting it may be
- Brings us closer to difficulties but without becoming caught up in our reactions to difficulties
- It is a slow, gentle coming to grips with who we are
- Settling in to our current experience in a relaxed, alert, open-hearted way
Why is Mindfulness Helpful?
The acquirement of moment-by-moment awareness of an individual’s surrounding environment is a practice that helps people better cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings that cause stress and anxiety in everyday life. With regular practice of mindfulness exercises, individuals can harness the ability to root the mind in the present moment and deal with life’s challenges in a calm, clear-minded, assertive way. Developing a fully conscious mind-set frees us from unhelpful, self-limiting thought patterns. A fully conscious mind enables individuals to be fully present to focus on positive emotions that increase compassion and understanding in oneself and others. Learn more at https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/
Different Types of Mindfulness Techniques:
There are different types of mindfulness exercises that can be done anywhere at anytime, depending on how simple or structured they are. For example, there is mindful breathing, mindful observation, mindful awareness, mindful listening, mindful immersion and mindful appreciation. Research indicates that engaging your senses outdoors is especially beneficial.
For more structured mindfulness exercises, such as body scan meditation or sitting meditation, individuals need to set aside time to be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions. A good time of day to practice this type of exercise would be early in the morning before you begin daily routines. Learning how to do mindfulness is not easy and takes a lot of practice. The mind easily wanders to other ideas and is constantly thinking about other things. Being present does not does not come easy. Try practicing mindfulness every day for about six months and over time, mindfulness might becomes effortless. Think of it as a commitment to reconnecting with and nurture oneself. Below is one type of mindfulness exercise and the step by step instructions. More can be found at https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/
This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. If you can sit down in the meditation (lotus) position, that’s great, if not, no worries.
Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.
- Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
- Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
- Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
- Then watch with your awareness as it works its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.
If you are someone who thought they’d never be able to meditate, guess what? You are halfway there already!
If you enjoyed one minute of this mind-calming exercise, why not try two or three?
For some people, it can feel hard to find the time or energy to learn mindfulness and may need some assistance. There are many apps that blend helpful technology with meditation techniques. Here are a list of mindfulness apps, for both iPhone and Android users, based on their quality, user reviews, and overall reliability:
- The Mindfulness App
- Insight Timer
- Smiling Mind
- Mediation Timer Pro
- Sattva Mediations and Mantras
- Stop, Breathe & Think
- 10% Happier
- Simply Being
- Hayes, A., & Feldman G. Clarifying the construct of mindfulness in the context of emotion regulation and the process of change in therapy. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2004;11:255–262.
- Healthline. Best meditation apps of 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps
- Kabat-Zinn J. Wherever you go there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion; 1994.
- Mayoclinic. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356
- Newman, K. (2016). How to chose a type of mindfulness meditation. Retrieved from: https://www.mindful.org/choose-type-mindfulness-meditation/
- Positive psychology program: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/
- Roeser RW, Skinner E, Beers J, Jennings PA. Mindfulness training and teachers’ professional development: An emerging area of research and practice. Child Development Perspec tives. 2012;6(2):167–173.
- Tang, Y & D, Level. A translational neuroscience perspective on mindfulness meditation as a prevention strategy. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 6(1), 63- 72. http://doi.org/ 10.1007/s13142-015-0360-x.
- What is Mindfulness? Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition