Ever since my near death experience in Peru a few months back, I've been thinking a lot about mindfulness.
And I'm not alone. Mental health professionals, businesses, and wellness-seekers alike are all turning to mindfulness practices to reduce anxiety, enhance focus & creativity, and infuse joy and meaning into their lives.
So what is mindfulness, and how do we incorporate it into our hectic, digitized 21st century lives?
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in any given moment and having an awareness of what's going on internally and externally.
On a good day, it's inextricable from gratitude. On a bad day, it's simply having a moment to moment awareness of what's going on in and around you.
This simple act has the capacity to heal you on many levels, reenergize your life, and foster compassion, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
An important thing to note is that mindfulness is NOT about trying to shut up your brain.
Outside of deep meditation, that inner chatter never goes away. (Sorry.) Mindfulness is just about getting present to the chatter, without judgment.
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS IN EVERYDAY LIFE:
Apps like HeadSpace and Inscape make it super easy. Also, don't feel like you need to commit 30-60 minutes to reap the benefits. Start with 5 minutes, sometimes that's all it takes.
2. Do a Quick Body Scan
Close your eyes and bring your attention to different parts of your body. Notice tension points and try to relax them. "Breath" into each part, especially your tension points, starting with the crown of your head all the way to your toes.
3. Try Mindful Eating
Eat your meals slowly and savor every bite, noticing all the different flavors and textures, as well as how it feels in your mouth and going down your throat.
4. Find Your "Mindfulness Anchors"
These are daily actions that remind you to get present, even during your most scattered, stressful times.
My personal mindfulness anchors are things I reliably do every day: shower, lotion my face, and eat lunch. They’re not “mindfulness activities” as much as they are “things I’m doing anyway,” so I might as well make them mindful. For example, instead of just showering, I try to appreciate the feeling of hot water on my skin, and remove all other thoughts as I do so.
5. Allow Yourself to Just BE
All you have to do to have a mindful moment is to make a conscious effort to focus on the present moment, without judgement. This can be sitting in a sunny corner with your eyes closed or standing in line at CVS. It all counts!