Six Mindfulness Practices You Can Start Today
Mindfulness, the act of being fully present in the moment and being witness to the thoughts, feelings, sensations you are experiencing, is an effective way to reduce stress. It may be hard to find a regular time for a meditation practice, but here are six relatively simple ways to get started becoming more mindful.
1. Mindful Breathing. Focus on your breath and the simple act of taking air, by breathing in and out … inhaling, exhaling, one breath following the other. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly. On the in breath, think of oxygen energizing your body cells. On the out breath, imagine all anxieties, concerns, and worries leaving your body. If thoughts come to you, allow them to pass as you bring your awareness back to your breath.
2. Mindful Observation. While seated and breathing naturally, become aware of your thoughts as they arise. When thoughts appear, simply observe them as you would clouds in the sky. Watch as some disappear and are replaced by new thoughts. In observing thoughts in this way, we allow ourselves to step outside of automatic pilot and deepen our mindfulness practice becoming an observer of our own mental activity.
3. The Body Scan. The body scan is a practice that allows us to bring mindful attention to our bodies and what we are feeling. It is a helpful way of getting out of our head and into our bodies. Move your awareness from your head to your toes, paying attention to each body part, taking note of any changes in sensation, temperature, tension or tightness. If any areas are tense or painful, breathe, and consciously send oxygen to areas of the body needing restoration.
4. Mindful Awareness. Many activities throughout the day we do while on automatic pilot. Bringing purposeful awareness to simple acts such as washing the dishes or folding clothes and staying focused on just that one thing can be a way of building mindfulness and bringing simplicity to your day.
5. Mindful Appreciation. Make a habit of noticing five things every day to be thankful for. This creates a new habit of mind called gratitude. The brain has an inherent negativity bias, and regular, mindful appreciation, allows us to reverse this bias, leading to greater happiness.
6. Mindful Living. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you be doing different today? This question can bring an unexpected solace and serenity to everyday stresses of modern life. We are living our lives most authentically when we keep the perspective of how fragile life is and how easily everything could change in an instant. Some of our worries and concerns, become irrelevant when viewed from this vantage point. Instead of getting caught up in stresses of the day, we are able to respond from a place of recognition that this moment in time, is all we have.