Mindfulness refers to the practice of being purposefully fully present in every moment and being aware of your surroundings, feelings, and thoughts, among others. In this awareness, acceptance without being judgmental is essential to prevent being sucked in either trying to find out what went wrong in the past or how to influence the future.
Mindfulness vs. Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are like mirror images of each other, and in some circumstances, they have been taken to mean the same thing. They do have certain differences though each enhances the other.
While mindfulness focusses on being aware of things in the present moment, meditation is the awareness of nothingness. Also, while meditation is practiced for a certain amount of time during the day, mindfulness can be applied to any day.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a form of clear mind meditation which aims at creating a clear and focused mind. Like the essence of mindfulness, mindfulness meditation builds on focusing on one thing: your natural breathing rhythm and then your slow walking rhythm.
Mindfulness Meditation Benefits
One can obtain many benefits from practicing mindfulness, especially since it is evident in most of your day-to-day activities. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness can bring positive benefits to your body’s psychological and physical aspects.
The consistent practice has been shown to improve good changes in your attitude, lifestyle, and health and general behaviors. These benefits can be enjoyed by everyone from children, students, adults, and senior citizens. Here are some of the main benefits you obtain from mindfulness meditation.
- Various research has shown that mindfulness meditation helps with significant sleep quality improvement in the short term by remediating sleep problems. Better sleep quality resulted in improved daytime performance.
- Mindfulness is also useful in improving the immunity of your body systems, which makes you better equipped to fight off diseases.
- Mindfulness has also been shown to be an effective strategy in fighting off depression and stress. It reduces the negative emotions, but it also helps prevent relapse among depression victims. It is as effective as anti-depressants in some circumstances without having any of the side effects.
- Mindfulness also impacts our brain health and has been shown in limited studies to improve grey matter density, which is linked to most of your cognitive abilities, including empathy, learning, emotional regulation, and memory.
- The practice of mindfulness does help in building your resilience besides just immunity. It helps people dealing with PTSD manage their pain better, including police officers, army veterans, and abuse victims, etc.
- Mindfulness can also help overcome biases and prejudices which you could implicitly have. According to researchers, this is achieved by reducing the impact of cognitive biases, which are the main contributors to prejudice, including racial biases.
- Mindfulness also helps you build better relationships. Among couples, those who practice this type of meditation have been shown to be more satisfied with their partners, be more optimistic and relaxed. More importantly, it helps the couples recover more quickly from any conflicts they have.
- Mindfulness meditation is an effective tool in helping you gain focus. It is effective in helping you tune out from your distractions, which in turn leads to better memory, decision-making skills, and your attention.
- Mindfulness meditation helps you build your self-esteem and image. With stronger self-esteem, it is easier to follow your values, have a better appreciation of your body image, and, more importantly, you develop resilience to negative feedback.
- Mindfulness meditation is also helpful for teens, caregivers, teachers, in business, and in education. It fosters empathy, increases self-compassion and happiness, reduces the need for binge drinking, improves creativity and confidence.
- Mindfulness meditation is also beneficial when trying to lose weight and combat obesity. With mindful eating, you savor the food you are eating, and they are more satisfied hence less prone to overeating and more inclined to stick to the diet plan. Pregnant women who focused on mindful meditation gained less weight during their pregnancies and had healthier babies.
Overall, mindfulness meditation is essential to your general wellbeing and can help people at all levels and in different institutions.
Related reading: 8 Health Benefits of Meditation – What the Newest Research Shows
Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Create a connection with all your senses
Mindfulness is about being alive and active in the present moment. Your senses help you stay in the present purposefully.
When you are in tune with your sense of touch, sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch are ways you can get to be active in the present moment and get away from thoughts that blunt them.
Make it a habit of taking in the smells of things like coffee, listen to the sounds around you and engage your senses in all the day’s tasks to stay in the present.
It is usual to try and fit several things while you are eating, which ends up denying you the full experience of the meal. With modern gadgets like smartphones and TVs, it is easy to take your meals on autopilot.
The fact that you are not focusing on the meal results in you not feeling satisfied, nor do you get fully nourished from the meal.
Practice mindful walking
Another easy way to attain mindfulness is daily mindful walking. Instead of focusing on the destination and losing yourself in your thoughts, you have to focus on your walking experience. You have to feel your muscles and feet as they work to move you. Take in your surroundings, including all the sights and sounds.
Learn to pause in the midst of the action
Most of the time, when working, it is easy to just go through the motions without much attention on the daily tasks. In doing so, you stop being fully in the present instead of doing things absentmindedly or without taking in the moment and being purposeful about it.
However, by introducing mini pauses in your actions like pausing and listening to your phone ringtone before picking it, or checking how your door handle feels like before opening it, you are able to get yourself back in the present moment.
Most of the time in conversations, people listen to answer back, so they do not truly pay attention to what is being said and taking in the non-verbal cues. At other times you are probably lost in your daydreams, which affects your understanding.
You can practice mindful listening by focusing on what the other person is saying and all the non-verbal communication, including tone and gestures.
Keep a watch on your thoughts and feelings
Your thoughts can easily trap you and take you away from the treasures of the present moment. Even a single thought can keep you trapped in a tunnel in the future or the past. By being able to watch your thoughts and feelings, you separate yourself from them and can watch them as they pass without being caught up with them.
Practice daily meditation
Meditation, as already noted, enhances mindfulness. It allows you to be able to calm your thoughts and calm down, being able to focus in the present moment. Meditation also fosters inner peace, which is an essential aspect of your being able to focus on the present moment. It also offers you inspiration, higher energy levels, and happiness.
Lose yourself in the things you love
At times the only way to maintain your focus on the present is by doing things you love. Work and other responsibilities have a way of forcing you into thoughts for a distraction, or you daydream about dealing with the boredom.
Spending time doing your hobbies and things you love occupies you most of the day and has you focusing on the activity and not your thoughts.
Watch your breathing
Mindful meditation is a breathing centered exercise that explains why watching your breathing is one of the easiest ways to practice this habit. Your breathing follows a rhythm, and if you are able to pay attention to it, then you are likely to pay attention to your present moment and free yourself from your thoughts and worries.
Go out to travel or change your routine
Changing your routine allows you to experience new environments and surroundings. It has the same effect as traveling to new places. Using a new route, traveling to a new place, and even learning something new all feel exciting because it allows you to engage all your attention to the new environment or activity.
These two practices enable you to be fully immersed in the present.
Wash dishes mindfully or take a mindful shower
Washing dishes seems a mundane task you can easily accomplish without achieving anything meaningful. Yet it is in the mundane nature of the task that one can actually bring other overlooked senses to the fore. Research has shown this action reduces an individual’s stress levels while improving their calmness and combats nervousness.
The same effect is seen when taking a mindful shower and allowing yourself to be aware of different aspects like the temperature, the smells of the soap, and how comfortable and nurturing it is to you.
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Featured Image by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash.