Practices for Improving Emotional and Physical Well-BeingSeptember 28, 2020 11:59 pm
Mindfulness is being intentionally present in the moment – acceptance and non-judgement
We have all experienced mindfulness when we have been fully present in the moment. Events likes weddings or the birth of a child are beautiful examples of this.
We have all also experienced mindlessness on automatic pilot. This is where our body is present but our awareness is elsewhere. You could reflect on responding ‘good’ to a question about how your day was when it was awful, is a great example of mindlessness.
It is so easy to pass through life on automatic pilot, but the reality is that this will make us partially absent from the events that make up our lives.
When we are on automatic pilot we cannot experience pleasant events and connections with others or even joy if we are not present to them. And we cannot tune out unpleasant sensations or experiences without also shutting out the wonderful moments that may arise simultaneously.
So, what are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness improves well-being
Being mindful makes it easier to savour the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health and can help relieving stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mindfulness improves mental health meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples conflicts, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Learning to stay in the present
You can choose any task or moment to practice informal mindfulness, whether you are eating, showering, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild.
Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body:
- Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly
- Let your abdomen expand fully
- Now breathe out through your mouth
Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation. Proceed with the task at hand slowly and with full deliberation. Engage your senses fully being aware of each sight, touch and sound so that you savour every sensation.
If at any time you notice that your mind has wandered from the task at hand, gently bring your attention back to the sensations of the moment.
If mindfulness meditation appeals to you, going to a class or listening to a meditation tape can be a good way to start. In the meantime, here is a mindfulness exercise you can try on your own.
Basic mindfulness meditation
This exercise teaches basic mindfulness meditation.
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
- Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad.
- If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.
Remember like any skill, mindfulness takes practice. Try it again! Sometimes the only thing standing between your goals, is a little bit of practice. Enjoy.