Mindfulness is the art of making the mind full in the present moment, having an awareness of where we are and what we are doing. Not being overwhelmed by what is around us and focusing on one’s self. Life challenges us with daily stressors, and our minds can run around focused on what we have to do and where we’ve got to be. We can often fail to ‘check-in’ with ourselves and how we’re feeling.
Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and originates from Hinduism and Buddhism, and has since transferred to western culture. Although, originating from religious beliefs, science backs-up the benefits that mindfulness has. Mindful report studies that have shown mindfulness practice induces a state of brain activation focusing on attention. Regular practice can reflect long-term changes in brain function and structure. “This is a fundamental property of neuroplasticity – how the brain changes in response to experience”.
Reducing and managing stress. Being in a peaceful state can reduce the body’s risk of engaging in a “flight or fight” response to situations. Stress has also been linked to other consequences on our health.
Helps deal with illness. Mindfulness doesn’t relieve symptoms but it can help people in managing these and in their recovery.
Decreases depression. This has been found to decrease the symptoms of depression. The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) also recommends mindfulness as a way to prevent depression.
Improves physical health. This can include cardiovascular and respiratory health. Mindfulness has also been linked to becoming more physically active and having a healthier body mass index.
Mindfulness can be practiced in your daily routine whether this is on your lunch break, on your way to work or when you first wake up in the morning. Mindfulness can include anything which gives you a moment to check in with how you’re doing. Aswell as being mindful in everyday routine, it is also recommended to set aside time specifically for mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness practice can include meditation; which is also practiced within yoga and thai-chi. Dr Elise Bialylew provides a step-step guide on how to meditate within ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness‘. This includes;
- Getting comfortable.
Whether this is in bed or sat on a chair, take a moment to check-in with how you’re feeling at that moment.
- Breathe in and out.
Taking one deep breath in and another breath out can help get the mind into a relaxed state. Focusing on your breathing is considered an important aspect in yoga practice.
- Focus your attention.
Focus specifically on your breathing and nothing else, more so the feeling of the breath rather than the breath itself. Letting go of your thoughts and worries for the day.
- Calmly return to your day.
Open your eyes and carry the mindfulness practice into the rest of your day.
So why not try and be more mindful with the rest of your day?