Mindfulness: What it is & how to practice it

Hi all! We are a little over one week into the new year, I hope it’s treating you nicely so far. A lot of us are taking this fresh start and using this motivation and momentum to hopefully make some positive changes in our daily lives.

I feel like I’ve become sort of a self-growth junkie, I’m always looking for ways to continue growing as a person. It’s very addicting!! There is always more you can be doing… honing down on your eating habits a little more. Putting down the phone, and picking up a book. Stop hitting the snooze, and getting up for your alarm every single day. And for me, most recently, being present in the moment.

Being present.

Sounds easy, right? Not really. Chances are, unless you are doing it purposely, you are never really being fully present in the moment that is happening. Our brains wander sporadically; we have no control over it. You could be thinking about what happened last night, what’s going to happen on the next episode of this show, how you’re going to do in your workout competition next month…. basically anything else. It is very, very hard to be still, calm, and focused on the moment that’s happening, right this second.

Mindfulness is defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” (credit to http://www.mindful.org)

The purpose of mindfulness practices are to help relieve stress and anxiety, and bring more focus and attention into our every day lives. It helps you stop worrying about the future and regretting about the past. It helps you build more meaningful relationships. It’s also suuuuuper relaxing, leading to better sleep and more feelings of well-being, But just like anything in life, it takes practice– and the more you practice, the more benefits you will reap in your daily life.

There is a ton of literature on mindfulness, its purposes, its benefits, and how to get started. Believe me, I am no expert. I have only just begun my journey into attempting to be more mindful. What I don’t know a ton about, I try to read and learn as much as I can.

Probably the most popular mindfulness technique, and my newest obsession, is meditation. I’ve dabbled in meditation practice before but it never really stuck with me until now. I’ve been looking forward to it every single day since I’ve started! They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. I hope this becomes a habit for life for me!

Here’s a beginners meditation practice, that only takes a few minutes:

  1. Sit on a couch, chair, or the floor, with a straight back, and legs crossed in front of you.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe naturally, don’t try to force it or control it.
  4. Focus on each inhalation and exhalation and how your body feels with each. You can focus on the air coming in and out of the nostrils, how the air fills and leaves your chest, or how your abdomen rises and falls… whichever you choose.
  5. Continue to focus on each breath. If you feel your mind start to wander, just gently bring it back.
  6. Start this practice for a few minutes at a time, and eventually for longer time periods.

 

There are a ton of resources out there for you if you wish to learn more, like myself. Meditation can be done on your own, practiced through yoga, or even through a mindfulness app. I recently have been loving this app, Calm, for my meditation. It tracks your progress- how many days in a row you’ve meditated, how many total hours you’ve meditated, and can send you a daily reminder to meditate.

It has all sorts of different programs: for beginners, for focus, for anxiety, for sleep, for gratitude, etc. (pictured below)! It even has sleep stories. Yes… bedtime stories for adults. It’s AMAZING! The guided meditations break down mindfulness, meditation, how and why to do it, and then continually expand your knowledge and hone in on the skills from there. I’m loving it so much and for only $5 a month, I’d say it’s worth it.

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As always friends, if anyone has any questions (but again, I’m no expert!) or comments, I’d love to hear them. If you are on a mindfulness journey as well I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Don’t ever forget- we can all pick up a daily habit that can help us grow and develop into our highest selves! What’s your’s going to be?

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