According to Merriam Webster, mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. Practicing mindfulness can help use ease stress of our hectic lives day to day, improve memory, increase awareness, lower anxiety, lower reactivity, and help use manage physical sensations like pain amongst other wellness benefits. Read below for some ideas on practicing mindfulness.
Keep in mind meditation is often equated with mindfulness but this is not accurate. While meditation may be one exercise to cultivate a mindful presence, it is not the only way. But if you are interested in meditation or enjoy meditation already, check out some of the apps a few paragraphs below.
If you are new to mindfulness doing some reading or other research about it may help. A simple web search will yield tons of resources, some evidence based, some not, that you can learn from. Sites like mindful.org, mayoclinic.org, or Positivepsychology.com can be amazing resources. You’ll also come across a bunch of articles in independent publications and web sites like our own filled with examples of mindful exercises.
With smart phones there are actually plenty of apps now available to help people learn about and cultivate mindfulness. Some examples include The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, Simple Habit, Meditation, Insight Timer, Mindfulness Coach, and Breathe 2 Relax.
You could try a mindfulness walk. While walking from one place to another, try to keep awareness on what you are doing. How does walking feel? What can you hear? What can you feel? What colors can you see? Is there anything new you’ve never noticed before?
Focus on your breath for a few moments. You can practice this on your own or use a guide like some of the apps listed above. Be aware of how your chest or stomach move with breathing. Breathe more intently. Pay attention to the air coming in and going out from your body.
Try to just focus on your presence and surroundings. Not your thoughts. Not your feelings. Like the mindfulness walk, what are you experiencing with your senses. What is going on around you and not necessarily in you? If a thought comes, acknowledge it and allow it to move on. Being your focus back on your surroundings or breathing.
Sometimes mindfulness is just adjusting what we are doing rather than completing a specific exercise. For example, in conversation, pay attention to truly listening to others. Don’t focus on your response. Take in each and every word the other person is saying. Give them your full attention.
Above all when trying to practice mindfulness carry a non judgemental attitude toward yourself and others.
These examples are simplified for brevity and certainly do not encompass all of the ways we can learn and practice mindfulness in our lives. Educate yourself, try something new. You may just like it!
If you already practice mindfulness what do you incorporate in your mindful practice? We would love to hear from you.
Chris Dorian, founder of Know Your Why Recovery
*sites and apps mentioned above are not specifically endorsed by KYW Recovery but just suggestions on starting your mindful journey. We also do not receive any compensation for mentioning them.