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 to maintain 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. 

Mindfulness Defined

Mindfulness at its core can be described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmental.” It has been proposed as a form of professional development to manage the demands of teaching. 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. The elements of mindfulness, have been found potentially effective against common forms of psychological distress like rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, and anger. Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that an individual must pay attention to their feelings and thoughts without judgment. It involves believing there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel at 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 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 into 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 mindset 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 themselves and others. 

Different Types of Mindfulness Techniques:

Different types of mindfulness exercises can be done anywhere at any time, 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 come easy. Try practicing mindfulness every day for about six months and over time, mindfulness might become effortless. Think of it as a commitment to reconnecting with and nurture oneself. 

 

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