Mindfulness Matters

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a personal journey that allows you to have a greater intimacy with your life emotionally, physically, and mentally. Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness; purposefully paying attention to things that ordinarily you would not. In today’s world, most of us stay stuck in our head- working things out, stressed about what is up and coming, spending too much time on social media, and constantly worrying. We also tend to make our happiness conditional on what may happen. If you have thought “I will be happy when I get that new car, or new job, or new house. ” Or have you ever thought, “I will be happy when I find the right partner?” This way of thinking and worrying leaves us projecting into the future. Others spend too much time stuck in the past, allowing regrets and resentments to seep into daily thoughts. Both sets of thinking can lead to severe anxiety and depression.

Research suggest that mindfulness improves physical health such as:

  • Help relieve stress
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improves sleep
  • Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties

There are also benefits to mental health when mindfulness is practiced, and can help in areas such as:

  • Depression
  • Substance Use
  • Eating Disorders
  • Couples’ Conflicts
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Experts believe mindfulness works in helping individuals accept their experiences, even painful emotions, rather that react to them with avoidance or aversion. Mindfulness can be combined with psychotherapy to help clients become aware of the moment with a focused relaxation by paying attention to emotions, and sensations without judgment.

An informal way to get started with mindfulness is learning to stay in the present moment. This can be done while walking, working, playing with children, showering, eating, or any other task that is done daily without thought.

Points to get started:

  • Start by making yourself aware of the sensations in your body
  • Breathe in through your nose, let your abdomen expand fully and air to reach your lower belly
  • Exhale through your mouth
  • Be aware of all sensations when inhaling and exhaling
  • Continue with the task at hand slowly and deliberately
  • Engage all sensations fully: what does the touch feel like, what sounds are heard, what can be seen, what is being tasted, what is being smelled
  • Savor each sensation, continually bringing your mind back to the present if it wanders

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but the goal is always to stay in the present moment. I encourage everyone to take some time to be mindful today.

Andy Puddicombe mindfulness expert sums up mindfulness wonderfully in this short Ted talk: