It can be difficult to pay attention to what is happening right now. We frequently spend more time worrying about what’s going to happen in the future. Or ruminating on things we can’t change from the past. We may miss out on enjoying the present moment. It is possible to train yourself to pay attention in the present moment. You become aware of what is going on inside and outside of you, including your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings. You observe these moments objectively. This is known as mindfulness.
Buddhist meditation is where mindfulness originated. Meditation is a practice that aims to improve mental awareness and concentration. Mindfulness has become a buzzword in recent years. Mindfulness programs are becoming increasingly common in schools, workplaces, and hospitals.
It can be practiced through sitting meditation in a quiet place. In this practice, you concentrate on your breathing or body sensations. If your mind wanders, such as when you have thoughts about things you need to do, you try to bring it back to the present moment. However, mindfulness does not have to be practiced while sitting still or in silence. You can incorporate the practice into everyday activities such as walking or eating. You can also practice mindfulness when interacting with others.
According to research, focusing on the present moment can improve one’s health and well-being. Treatments based on mindfulness have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It may even assist people in coping with pain. Mindfulness meditation appears to improve quality of life and reduce mental health symptoms in many chronic illnesses.
Depression was treated with one of the first mindfulness-based therapies. Many studies have shown that it can help some people. Mindfulness appears to aid in the treatment of depression in two ways. For starters, it helps you develop the ability to stay in the present moment. Second, mindfulness can assist you in “centering” yourself away from such thoughts. It’s like sitting on a riverbank and watching thoughts float by like leaves on a stream.
Practicing mindfulness can help you avoid being pulled into any one thought and carried down the stream. People frequently have thoughts like, ‘nothing ever works out for me,’ or ‘it’ll always be this way.’ With time and practice, you can learn to step back from these painful thought patterns.
Mindfulness training is now being studied to see if it can help with a variety of other conditions, such as PTSD, eating disorders, and addiction.
Developing Mindful Habits
Being mindful may also assist you in making healthier decisions. You can apply mindfulness to your eating habits as well. According to research, it can help reduce binge eating and emotional eating. Paying more attention to your body can help you notice when you’re full and enjoy your food more.
This body awareness appears to be one of the ways mindfulness assists people in adopting healthier habits. If you’ve just eaten a jelly donut, you’re more likely to experience a sugar crash. Keeping this in mind can help you make better food choices in the future.
This also applies to positive emotions. Almost everyone feels better after engaging in physical activity. So, with mindfulness training, we are aware that it is improving our mood, and we can then use that reward to train ourselves.
Setting a goal may also benefit from mindfulness. We can set our minds to be more active or to eat more fruits and vegetables. And if we put our intention there, it’s more likely that we’ll follow through and make it happen.
Learning to be Mindful
It takes practice to become more mindful. Here are some ways to get you started:
- Take a few slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 1 second, and then exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat several times.
- Take a walk. Pay attention to your breathing as well as the sights and sounds around you as you walk. If you have thoughts or worries, write them down and then return to the present moment.
- Eat in a mindful manner. Take note of the taste, texture, and flavors in each bite. Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Perform a body scan. Pay attention to how each part of your body feels. This can assist you in connecting with your body.
- Find mindfulness resources including online programs and teacher-guided practices.
There are numerous online programs and apps available to help you practice mindfulness. However, they are not all created equal. Medical schools and universities, according to experts, are good places to look for resources. There are also apps you can use, but check to see if they are supported by research.
If you have trouble with an app, don’t take it personally or assume you’re not good at mindfulness or that it’s not for you. You could also look for a teacher or someone with the necessary skills to guide you through mindfulness training. Mindfulness, like any other skill, requires practice. Just because something is simple does not imply that it is easy.