Mindfulness is one of the biggest trending topics in wellness news, but what does it mean? According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” While this is not a new idea (the concept has roots in Buddhist meditation), in recent years it has begun to gain mainstream popularity due to its mental and physical health benefits. Mindfulness improves mental well-being by supporting attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life, helping you become actively engaged in activities i.e. “to live in the moment”, creating the ability to deal with negative events, and decreasing stress by focusing on the here and now. Your improved mental state can also lead to a number of physical health benefits such as treating heart disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing chronic pain, improving sleep, and reducing gastrointestinal issues.
There are three core techniques that mindfulness meditation uses – 1) Go with the flow – allow your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations to flow without judging them good or bad. 2) Pay attention – observe external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch while focusing on your experience in the moment only. 3) Stay with it – meditation takes practice to fully clear your mind, relax, and become self-aware. Your experience and results will improve with time.
Want to try mindful meditation? Here’s a simple exercise to get you started:
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on your breathing, feeling the sensations of air flow throughout your body as they occur.
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration, become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas in the moment.
- Consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, focus on your breathing once again until your concentration returns.