2 minute read
“Mindfulness” is everywhere. In the news. In TED Talks. All over our Instagram feeds.
For the past few years, the word has been used to describe more thoughtful, peaceful, and meditative practices to center ourselves and try to find some focus in our hectic lives.
But mindfulness is more than a buzzword.
It comes from concepts of awareness cultivated in Eastern Philosophy and its meditative practices—though mindfulness isn’t limited to meditation. Mindfulness can also help us create an attentive awareness of the present moment, without judgment and with full acceptance.
In that way, mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with therapy.
Mindfulness links to your emotions.
Mindfulness in counseling and psychology was popularized by the researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn. His work and other research over the past few decades has shown that mindfulness practices improve emotional well-being, as well as physical health:
- Mindfulness, relaxation, and meditation have been proven to have significant benefits in treating and alleviating anxiety and mood symptoms such as depression.
- Mindfulness can help with stress management, better sleep, and even improved management of chronic pain disorders.
- Research also suggests that practicing mindfulness offers the opportunity for greater control over the brain’s processing of pain and emotions.
Everyday mindfulness can boost your mental health.
There’s a great TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe about mindfulness, and the power of taking just 10 minutes out of your day for mindfulness practice.
If you devote 10 minutes, five minutes, even one minute a day to purposeful mindful activity, you can experience a slew of benefits to your emotional, cognitive, and physical health.
“But I can barely do all that I have to do! How can I find time to be mindful?”
There are infinite ways to practice mindfulness; basically all of them involve making the choice to step away from whatever you are doing to focus your attention on the present moment.
Here are some easy ways to practice mindfulness:
- Eat mindfully. Slowly and deliberately eat a snack. Focus on the smell, the feel, the taste.
- Listen mindfully. Close your eyes and listen—very carefully—to identify the different sounds around you.
- Focus on a quote. Read a favorite quote (or google a quote of the day) and take a few minutes to listen to the thoughts and feelings it brings up in you.
- Breathe. Focus on your breath, the feeling in your throat and lungs, your heartbeat. Gradually prolong each inhale and exhale.
- Listen to your body. Scan your body for various sensations, judging them as neither good nor bad. Just register that they exist. Does your awareness of a sensation change your perception of it?
- Check in. Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, “What’s going on with me right now?” What are you feeling or thinking? No judging or delving into the issue—just observe and describe what’s happening with you in that very moment, as though you’re an audience or researcher of yourself.
- Count. Count to 10 slowly and deliberately. If you notice that your mind is wandering, simply bring it back and start the count over again. (It’s harder than it sounds!)
- Google it. There’s a wide world of mindfulness on the internet. Search “guided mindfulness activities,” or look for mindfulness apps for your phone.
Get creative. Do whatever works for you, and then make it a habit. Because not only is daily mindfulness easy—it’s totally worth it.
Midwest Counseling & Diagnostic Center can offer support. Our extensively trained, highly skilled therapists are down-to-earth, non-judgmental, and committed to helping you find the path forward on your journey. For more information, please contact us.