Mindfulness can be defined as cultivating a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment in a calm and gentle way. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts become fine-tuned into what we’re sensing in the present moment and accepting it rather than reliving the past or imagining the future. The practice is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
Mindfulness improves well-being. Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfying life. Being mindful makes it easier to enjoy 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. They can also feel less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health. If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that these techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can: help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, , improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mindfulness improves mental health. In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness 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.
Mindfulness techniques. There is more than one way to practice mindfulness. The goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.
Basic meditation – Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra. Instrumental music can help to focus the mind as well if you are in a noisy environment that you find distracting.
Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.
Sensory – Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.
Emotions – Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
Urge surfing – Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.
The more time you spend developing mindfulness techniques in your everyday the more you will see and feel the benefits and effects on your self. What you put in is what you get out. For more information here is a free resource to help you get started on your mindfulness journey.