Mindfulness can be described as your ability to be present and intensely aware of what you are sensing, thinking, and feeling in the moment, without interpreting or judging it. Practiced through meditation, mindfulness involves relaxing practices such as guided imagery, deep breathing, and other methods that can increase your mood, alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms, improve your self-image, help you become aware of your negative thinking patterns, and relax your mind and body.
Negative automatic thoughts, self-judgment, cognitive fusion, a lack of self-compassion, and a failure to set the personal boundaries can make you more likely to experience stress, affect your self-esteem, and drain you both mentally and physically. It can also trigger the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Practicing mindfulness can help redirect your focus away from negative thinking patterns and engage with the present experiences.
Mindfulness Meditation Benefits
Research of mindfulness meditation has proven its effectiveness for various conditions such as the following:
· Low self-esteem
· Chronic pain
· Gastrointestinal difficulties
Also, mindfulness can boost self-awareness and help you accept your thoughts and emotions. Studies show that regular mindfulness practice can improve your focus and attention, decrease job burnout, boost your working memory and executive functioning and overcome negative thinking patterns.
Sample of Mindfulness Activities and Techniques
Like any other skill, mindfulness takes practice. So, here are some of the most common structured mindfulness techniques you can incorporate in your day-to-day life.
1. Body Scan Meditation
Lie on your back with your arms at the sides of your body or sit in a comfortable chair. Then slowly and deliberately focus your attention on each part of your body. Go in order, starting from your head to toes or vice versa. Focus on sensations, thoughts, and feelings associated with each segment of your body.
2. Mindful Breathing
Sit down in meditation pose or lie comfortably on your bed or sofa. You can also do this exercise standing, but you’ll feel more relaxed if you’re laying or sitting. Breathe in slowly through your nose and let your breath flow through the stomach, lungs, and the brain. Breathe out through your mouth. Each breath cycle should last five to ten seconds. Let go of your thoughts and things that need your attention while practicing. Focus on each of your breaths instead.
3. Mindful Observation
Mindful observation exercise helps notice and appreciate the everyday environment that we usually take for granted. Most of us spend our days running around like a headless chicken, not noticing the beauty of our natural environment. The main aim of this exercise is to help you connect with your environment in a profound and meaningful way.
Start mindful observation exercise by choosing a natural object from your environment and simply relax into watching it for as long as you want. This could be the tree in front of your house, an orchid in your window, or the clouds in the sky. Allow yourself to feel immersed in the object you’re watching and connect with nature.
Practicing moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings can help you better cope with negative thoughts that cause stress and anxiety. It will also inspire gratitude, boost your mood, and help you deal with day-to-day challenges in a calm, clear-minded way.