Mindfulness is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days. As women, we often find ourselves striving to achieve excellence in our careers, health, relationships, and personal development. Add to the mix the societal pressures of modern day living, current affairs and the occasional pandemic. That’s a lot to juggle for one human being. And, although we can’t control every situation, we can change the way we react to daily stressors through acts of mindfulness.
The concept of mindfulness is blissfully simple, and sometimes simplicity is exactly what’s needed to throw a little balance into the mix of an otherwise chaotic life. But, beyond the point of generally being aware, what is mindfulness? What are the benefits of mindfulness? And, how can you practice mindfulness?
What is mindfulness?
In its simplest form, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be present in any given moment. Mindfulness is about living in the now. It’s about being aware of your surroundings and less reactive to daily happenings, whether positively or negatively charged.
The thing is, many people look to the future for happiness and change. Others find themselves stuck in the past searching for the same things. But the future is yet to happen, and the past is already gone. In cultivating awareness on your present moment, you are in control of your thoughts, actions and reactions.
To create genuine change in life, there needs to be a shift in perspective to the present moment. That shift can be achieved through mindfulness. Plus, research suggests that practicing mindfulness enables you to rewire your brain to form new thought patterns and remove limiting belief systems. Mindfulness truly is a win on so many levels.
How to practice mindfulness?
If you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, distracted, or a combination of all three, try these five ways to practice mindfulness:
Stuck in a funk? Feeling anxious or agitated? This meta-analysis of 1295 participants found that meditation may decrease anxiety. To meditate, take a comfortable seat in a quiet space. Close your eyes as you sit in silence, focusing on your natural breathing. Allow thoughts to pass without judgment, bringing your focus back to your breath when your mind wanders. If you’re an absolute beginner, start with 10-minutes of meditation a day, increasing the length of time as you become more comfortable in your meditation practice.
Enjoy some deep belly breathing
A great way to reduce anxiety is through mindful belly breathing. Simply take a seated position, relax your shoulders and focus on inhaling air into the lower lungs, expanding your belly as you do. Then slowly exhale the air from your belly before returning for another round of inhalation. Then repeat for 5-10 minutes.
It’s completely true; practicing gratitude can make you happier. So, if you’re looking for ways to cultivate more gratitude in your life, keeping a gratitude journal is a good place to start. Spend five minutes every morning writing three things you’re thankful for, inspirational quotes, and a daily affirmation. Jot down whatever makes you feel good and you’ll burst into the day feeling positively alive.
Set a morning mantra
A mantra is a short intention-fuelled statement with the power to create internal and external change when recited repeatedly. By setting a daily mantra upon rising each day, you’re affirming the tone for your day. Keep your mantra light, fun, flirty and positive. If you’re stuck for ideas, try these on for size:
- “I attract great things into my life”
- “I am worthy just as I am”
- “I choose to forgive and let go of anger”
- “I focus on what I can do, not what I cannot do”
- “I radiate and attract positive energy”
Walk in nature
Connecting with nature is a sure-fire way to get back into a present state of mind. So, pop on your comfiest shoes and get outdoors. Make sure you take the time to observe your surroundings; smell the flowers, gaze at the clouds, and smother your feet in the lush grass to really ground your presence.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Through a consistent mindfulness practice, you open yourself up to benefits of:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Decreased symptoms of depression
- Decreased reactivity
- Increased emotional regulation
- Improved general well-being
- Better sleeping patterns
- Boosted memory
- Improved cognitive abilities