Are you mindful or is your mind full? And how do you tell the difference? The mind is a great tool for problem-solving, but it’s not great at settling down and being with what is. Most of the time, the mind is wandering around in the past or the future rather than in the present. Want to learn how to incorporate mindfulness in your day-to-day?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of gently focusing your awareness on the present moment over and over again. It often involves focusing on sensations to root yourself in your body in the here and now. It can be practiced during formal meditation or during everyday activities, like cooking, cleaning, or walking. Mindfulness practice is a way to gently retrain the mind to settle into the present moment. It’s kind of like becoming a parent to your mind rather than letting it control you. By practicing mindfulness over and over with patience and compassion for yourself, you can train your mind to be still.
There have been many studies that show various benefits of practicing mindfulness within daily life. These benefits can include:
- improving cognitive ability
- slowing brain aging
- reducing stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms
- increasing a sense of well-being
- helping with pain management
- improving quality of life for those living with chronic conditions
Mindfulness practice: how to do it:
The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to focus on the breath, resting your attention on the inhalation and exhalation repeatedly. No matter what you’re doing, you can practice placing your attention on your breath. Whether you’re making the bed, surfing the web, or walking the dog, nearly every moment is an opportunity to become more present.
- Start by becoming aware of the sensation of your breath. Feel the rise and fall of the belly and chest. Feel the breath moving in and out of your nostrils. Notice how it’s cool on the inhale and warm on the exhale.
- Eventually, you’ll likely notice that your mind has wandered or you’ve gotten distracted by something going on around you. Simply bring the attention back to the breath without judging yourself or “rating” your performance. There is no objective other than being with the breath.
- Repeat this process over and over again. You can practice for a set amount of time or throughout your day.
Overall, mindfulness practice has been linked to many benefits and has been shown to improve brain health as well as slowing brain aging. In addition to these benefits, mindfulness can also aid with pain and disease management, which can lead to a better quality of life. Next time your mind wanders to nothing, try practicing a bit of mindfulness by focusing on your breath.
Written by GUADS intern Sara with contributions from www.healthline.com