What is mindfulness and how do we practise it?


What exactly is mindfulness? Image via Adobe Stock.

You may have heard the term “mindfulness” and you may have heard people talking about taking time out of your day to practise it, but what does it actually mean?

In essence, mindfulness is a form of meditation where you focus on what you are sensing and how you are feeling within that moment. The idea behind mindful meditation is that often in our normal day to day lives we tend to spend a lot of time planning, problem-solving and overthinking and with that brings stress and anxiety. Practising mindfulness can help to organise your thoughts so you can spend more time being present in the world around you and facilitate a more positive frame of mind. Research has shown that practising daily mindfulness can help to relieve stress, anxiety, insomnia, pain and high blood pressure as well as helping to decrease job fatigue, improve attention to detail and even improve mental health. Simple mindfulness tasks can be performed anywhere, at any time but research also suggests that engaging your senses outdoors can be especially beneficial. There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness in your day to day life such as:

Living in the moment
There is a technique called grounding, often practised by people who suffer from anxiety. The idea is to access all of your senses by finding something you can touch, something you can see, something you can smell, something you can hear and something you can taste. Quite often we are so busy we forget to stop and appreciate the world around us, so taking the time to access you senses can create a more positive frame of mind. Even if it is something as simple as purchasing your favourite food and taking a moment to smell it, feel it and savour the taste.

Focus on your breathing
Negative thoughts can quite often lead to hyperventilation, which in turn can lead to panic attacks. Focusing on your breathing can calm your thoughts and bring your body out of that fight or flight mode. When you are feeling overwhelmed or having negative thoughts try to sit down in a quiet space, close your eyes and focusing on breathing in, holding for 3 – 5 seconds then breathing out.

Set a positive mindset
We sometimes cannot control our environment or what is going on in our day to day lives, but what we can control is our mindset. Setting a positive mindset can be as simple as waking up in the morning and deciding you are going to have a good day today, even saying it out loud to yourself can give you that positive affirmation to start your day the right way.

Try body scan meditation
Body scan meditation is where you lay on your back with your legs and arms apart, palms facing upward and you connect with your body by closing your eyes and pay attention to each individual part of your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. Focus on how each part of your body is feeling and be aware of any senses or emotions that come along with it. We often hold tensions in certain areas of our bodies, so it is good to make yourself aware of what areas you need to work on to help relieve stress and emotion. The kind of meditation is best performed in a private place away from distractions, so try it first thing in the morning before you start your day.

Try walking meditation
Find a quiet place, a place that brings about good memories or somewhere that makes you feel calm. Walk slowly, calmly and purposely and focus on each footstep while taking in your surroundings. Breath in deeply and slowly, feel the air in your lungs, take in the smells around you, feel the sun on your face. Be aware of your body and how it moves and focus on the subtle movements that help you keep your balance.

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