🕊️ A Practical Starter Guide to Mindfulness
Author(s): Christian Scott & Blake Shalem
🧠 Mind Full of Stress or Avoiding Stress By Being Mindful?
The mind is a powerful tool, but it is continuously caught up in a flow of thoughts and stories of rehashing the past or imagining the future. That means it’s full of anxiety associated with thoughts, stories, and narratives that don’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s actually happening at the given moment. Mindfulness can give relief from a busy and stressed mind by focusing on moment-by-moment awareness.
☀️ What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on being intensely aware of what you're sensing in the moment without judgment. Practicing mindfulness helps you to relax and lower your stress levels through breathing techniques, guided imagery, and other methods.
Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negatively can be tiring and can lead to stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Helping to redirect your focus to mindfulness exercises can help you to appreciate the present. By spending a little time each day practicing mindfulness and patience with yourself, it is possible to teach yourself to be present in the moment without distraction and live a more fulfilling life.
The mindfulness revolution (at least in the Western world) owes a lot to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who was inspired by Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Philip Kapleau.
Jon Kabat-Zinn started his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Mindfulness is now a fairly well-known and understood practice, with thousands of research studies documenting how it has a positive impact on an individual's physical and mental health - ultimately inspiring many programs to adopt mindfulness principles.
😌 Mindfulness Benefits
Mindfulness meditation has been extensively studied and proven to be an effective tool for various conditions. It's easy to incorporate into your routine, and overall research supports its effectiveness. Mindfulness meditation also has been shown to:
- Decrease stress, anxiety, and symptoms associated with depression as well as burnout
- Improve attention and cognitive reasoning
- Improve sleep and reduce symptoms of insomnia
- Help coping with pain and general pain management
- Improving the quality of life and sense of well-being
✅ Practical Ways To Get Started
There are many simple ways to practice mindfulness. Some examples include:
- Appreciate Elements of Living in The Moment
- Slow down for a second and make an effort to really notice your surroundings. Appreciate the sounds, sights, smells, and tastes of the things you experience. When you do this with your favorite foods, for instance, make sure to take your time eating them.
- Accept Yourself
- Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
- Stop saying to yourself “I should have…”, accept your past actions, and utilize past lessons as opportunities to be aware of your present choices and thoughts.
- When You Have a Flood of Negative Thoughts…
- Try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help. Try to refocus and look at your day with a positive and nonjudgmental outlook, and find joy in the little things.
- Body Scan Meditations
- Lie on your back with your legs extended, arms by your side, facing upwards. Focus on each body part at a time from head to toe and observe the sensations, emotions, or thoughts you might be experiencing across the different areas of your body.
- Sitting Meditations
- Sit upright with your hands in your lap and focus on your breath. If you find that something distracts you from meditation, just bring your attention back by noting the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
There are, of course, a plethora of other great resources that can help you with mindfulness and to be consistent with practicing it. Below are a few resources, some of which we have personally utilized and some that have been recommended to us over the years. Please note that we are not sponsored by or professionally endorsing any of the resources, apps, or companies featured below.
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