Mindfulness is like a modern version of meditation. If anything I would actually say it is very similar to focused meditation that Buddhist monks have practiced for years….I say similar but there are differences.
What Exactly is Mindfulness?
Just like meditation, mindfulness is something you practice. The aim is to concentrate on what is happening right now. Not what happened today, not what you are doing later. The aim of mindfulness is to focus on, and bring your attention to, what is happening right now, this moment.
Mindfulness is seen as a modern thing but its actually been developing in its modern form since the 1920’s… and if you in fact look up Sati in Buddhism, you’l see that modern mindfulness has been directly derived from this essential part of Buddhist practice.
It is one of the main pillars or Buddhism and actually translates as ‘Mindfulness‘. The practice aimed to concentrate on that moment and bring the mind to that moment only. To clear the mind of everything except that moment.
The approach to modern practice, and the aim is almost exactly the same but simple techniques have been developed to help people focus the mind on the present. Its actually a lot harder than it sounds!
What Does Mindfulness Help With?
Mindfulness was developed as a way for people to deal with mental health. It was seen that meditation and Buddhist techniques could help with anxiety and stress and recently has been used to cure all sorts of mental health issues.
But its also a great way to help you appreciate that moment, put everything into perspective and just accept your thoughts rather than feeling angry, anxious or
depressed about them. Mindfulness is an effective way to reduce stress and unwind.
The practice is also an extremely effective tool for putting irrational thoughts into perspective and help you see that those self-defeating thoughts maybe aren’t correct or true.
Mindfulness has been shown to help with:
- Blood pressure
How To Start With Mindfulness
Before you start you need to appreciate that it is a practice. It takes practice and won’t happen over night.
The more you practice the more benefit you will get from it. Find a quiet space and time to practice every day. Switch the TV off and sit in quiet so you can focus. Mindfulness means to focus on the present moment, to focus on what you are experiencing at that moment and that moment only.
How to Be Mindful
There are lots of ways to practice mindfulness but they all have the same goal – to focus on what is happening right now. And it is a skill that takes practice.
You need to be able to bring your attention to what you are experiencing in that moment, focusing on thoughts and feelings that you are having in that moment without judgment.
At first, it is a lot harder than you might think!
Luckily there are techniques that have been developed to help focus on the moment and practice mindfulness.
3 Useful Mindfulness Techniques You Can Use Today
Mindfulness technique 1 – Watching the breath. This is a technique that has been around since the beginning of time and is a basic method used to focus the mind on the moment. Start by sitting comfortably but upright (you don’t wanna fall asleep!). Close your eyes and breath normally through your nose. Focus on the sound of your breath going in and out of your nostrils. Notice your chest going in and out as you breath. Feel the air passing through your nostrils. Concentrate on your breath cycle. Your mind will wander, and that is fine, but every time it does, let the thought pass without you judging it; Bring your concentration back to what your breath is doing. Every time your mind wanders and tries to think of something else, let that thought come and go without judging or thinking further about it and then bring your mind back to what your breath is doing.
Mindfulness technique 2 – Body Scanning. Odd sounding name but effective way to achieve the focus you need for mindfulness. Some people find this method effective, others find it very difficult. As with all mindfulness, body scanning aims to focus your mind on the present and let thoughts and feelings pass without judgement.
Start by sitting comfortably but upright as above, close your eyes and start noticing your breath again. As you breath you can start your body scan. Your aim with this technique is to focus your mind onto each body part in sequence, notice all the feelings in that part of the body, but don’t try and fix any feelings or emotions. Start at the top or the bottom and work your way through the whole body. As in the breathing technique above, your mind will wander and when it does, don’t judge anything, simply bring your mind back to the part of the body you are concentrating on. When you finish, sit quietly and relax then slowly open your eyes.
Technique 3 – Anything that Brings Focus To The Present! It is simply the skill of focusing the mind on the present and allowing thoughts to come and go without judgement. If this means watching your breath or scanning your body then so be it, but anything that forces you to focus on something that is happening right in the moment is you practicing mindfulness.
A popular, simple, proven technique is to eat something that has texture, taste and smell and pay particular attention to how it feels in your mouth, the taste the general emotions etc. A famous experiment and one that beginners can try is to eat raisins. But instead of just cramming them down your throat as fast as you can, be a little more mindful of what is going on. Feel the raisin in your hand, look at the color, the feel of the texture on your hand. What does it smell like? What does it look like? Chew it and try and describe to yourself the taste and feel in the mouth….Focus on every little detail. As with other techniques, your mind will wander but just bring it back to the raisin again.
People get hung up on science and techniques but the fact is that every mind is different. What works for you might not work for someone else.
Is Mindfulness Suitable For All Ages
Yes. Adults and children can benefit from these effective techniques. There are no bad side effects, only good, so there is no reason why children shouldn’t practice too.
It can be a little tricky to teach mindful techniques to children but certain methods have been developed specifically for children.
Hopefully this is a great insight into how you can become more mindful and hopefully it helps you get started. Set a little quiet time aside each day for practice and you will soon start to see the benefits of mindfulness and a better understanding of your mind and feelings.