Mindfulness practices seem to be becoming more and more popular these days, but what does this word even mean? In this post, you’ll learn the answer to this question and learn how you can start a mindfulness practice today.
To start with a basic definition, being “mindful” means to be aware of something. To take this a step further, mindfulness is when you are truly conscious in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is practicing being aware of what is going on with your entire self meaning your mind, body, and soul.
Why is having a mindfulness practice so important today?
So many of us live our lives in an “unconscious” state. What I mean by “living in an unconscious state,” is that you just go through the motions of your day without ever stopping to process what is going on.
The problem with this is that most of the time when you’re living in this “unconscious” state, you’re also living with more negative emotions which cause stress. If you’re living in a constant state of stress, this obviously isn’t ideal.
Sometimes we live in such a constant state of stress that we aren’t “consciously” aware of it. We feel like it’s normal. But living in constant stress is not normal and will eventually takes it’s toll on us either physically or mentally.
Something in your body will eventually raise the alarm and say “Ok, I can’t handle all this stress anymore.”
Stress is one of the leading causes of heart disease. When you think about this, you realize how much of an impact stress can have on your body. It shows you how something non-physical like an emotion or feeling can present physically in the body.
Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix but it's totally worth it.
Practicing mindfulness is an amazing way to reduce stress.
Now, this kind of thing takes time so you may not see the results right away, but that’s because you’re working on changing habits that have been ingrained into your brain for probably years. Your brain gets so used to living stress and worry that it can be difficult to change. It’s not impossible but it does take time and consistent practice!
When you practice being more mindful, you’re able to assess when things are not in balance. There are always going to be stressors in life and that’s ok, it’s how we respond to stress that determines the outcome.
The more mindful and conscious you are, the faster you’ll realize when you’re going down a path you don’t want.
When you are mindful, you can assess yourself and what is going on and adjust as needed.
I’m going to use myself as an example so you can see what I mean.
Say I’m having a day where I’m frustrated or irritable. Past, unmindful me, would not have done anything about it which would have caused me to be in that negative space longer, leading to more “negative” things such as me being unproductive etc. Now that I practice things such as mindfulness, when these negative emotions come up such as frustration, I can take a step back and be like ok, what can I do to change this. Whether it be sit in meditation or change the activity I’m doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, the point is that you recognize the issue and adjust.
Negative feelings and emotions are going to come up in life and that is ok. They are part of the human experience. It’s how we respond to these emotions that determines how much control they will have over us.
How do you actually have a mindfulness practice?
I think a common misconception is that you need to meditate to practice mindfulness. While meditation is a wonderful practice for this and is something I love to use personally, it’s not the only way. Any activity that helps you to be fully in the present moment allows you to practice mindfulness. This can be yoga, walking in nature, painting, or really anything that allows you to focus your mind on one thing, the present moment.
Our mind’s love to create lots of thoughts or what is sometimes referred to as “mental chatter” This mental chatter will probably come up during your mindfulness practice and that’s ok. The more you practice tuning this out and focusing back on the present moment the quieter this chatter will get.
As I said earlier in this post, mindfulness is about being truly conscious in the present moment. Many times when we are living “unconsciously” we just go through the motions.
So based on this point, another idea to practice mindfulness is to change up your routine.
For example, if every morning you wake up and check your email, which is maybe not the best place to start your day, let’s try to change this. Try to wake up and not look at your phone first thing. Instead, do something that nourishes you. Maybe have your cup of coffee while watching the wildlife interact in the morning or take 5 minutes to meditate. Once you are done with whatever this nourishing activity is for you, now you can check your phone. By making this one simple change you went from going through your morning unconsciously to consciously.
How does practicing mindfulness help your life?
There are numerous scientific studies that show how mindfulness can be beneficial for your health.
When your mind lives in the past and future, this usually brings about stress. Stress can really wreak havoc on your mind and your physical body. Mindfulness, like I said before, teaches you to be in the present moment meaning you’re no longer constantly living in the past and future. This in turn can really reduce stress levels.
Mindfulness practices also teach you to recognize and to be aware of what is going on with your mind and body. This allows you to adjust accordingly to what you need to be your best self. It can also be really helpful in healing from physical or mental health issues. Mindfulness helps you uncover the mind body connection which can be so healing.
Keep in mind that practicing mindfulness is about releasing judgements. When you practice mindfulness, you want to recognize any emotions and sensations that come up, but don’t place judgements on them. When you don’t judge yourself for feeling any negative feelings, it’s easier for them to pass.
Mindfulness can really help us in all aspects of life.
The beauty of life is all around us, but sometimes it’s hidden from our view. When you live mindfully, it helps uncover and reveal this beauty.
When you live in the present moment, you can really enjoy all that life has to offer.
Remember that a mindfulness practice doesn’t need to be anything crazy and complex. Start off small by choosing one way you can incorporate a mindfulness practice into your life. Your mind, body and soul will thank you!
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