What is mindfulness?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment.
Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.
What are the benefits of mindfulness exercises?
- Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
- Less negative thinking and distraction
- Improved mood
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditation and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe.
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The goal is to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement.
- Let your judgements roll by. When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
How to Meditate
Meditation focuses on the breath, not because there is anything special about it, but because the physical sensation of breathing is always there and you can use it as an anchor to the present moment.
A Simple Meditation Practice
- Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
- Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
- Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
- Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes.
- Feel your breath. Rest your attention lightly on the breath. Feel it as it comes into your body and as it goes out, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
- Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you notice that you have gotten so caught up in thoughts that you have forgotten that you’re sitting in the room, just gently bring yourself back to the breath.
- Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly. If your attention wanders away, just gently bring it back to your body and the environment. The key word here is “gently.” Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
- When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
Click here, to know more about how to practice mindfulness meditation.
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