How Practicing Mindfulness Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness is a very hot topic in the world of psychology right now. It's extremely popular amongst entrepreneurs, and people who enjoy self-development. I can speak from experience that embracing mindfulness is life changing. I can now say I think more clearly, and am more emotionally balanced. Mindfulness is like an emotional antidote.
But what is mindfulness? And how can it help improve your life? Let's take a look at the practice people have been using for thousands of years to improve their lives.
What Exactly is Mindfulness?
According to the website Psychology Today, mindfulness is "A state of active, open attention on the present". The key word here is active. Simply focusing on the present seems easy enough, but in our current lives and occupations, it can actually prove quite difficult. It takes effort to slow your mind down, avoid distractions, and focus on what is right in front of you.
As I mentioned earlier, mindfulness is a very hot topic right now. However, people in civilizations much older than ours have been practicing it for centuries. Buddhists, Greeks, and Romans, all practiced some form of mindfulness. Mindfulness can be a complex part of your meditation routine, or it can be as simple as stopping, and taking a minute to breathe. All these years later, the benefits of mindfulness are being validated by research. Here are some of these benefits.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Its apparently obvious to even the biggest skeptics that the practice of mindfulness has great benefits on emotional health. However, mindfulness has been researched and proven to have tremendous benefits both cognitively and physically. A recent study showed that mindfulness can reduce inflammation of the brain. Inflammation of the brain is linked to diseases such as depression and Alzheimer's disease. Here are some other benefits of mindfulness .
- Mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety by 38% in adults and adolescents. We all have anxiety in one form or another. The more we can control it, the more effective we can be.
INCREASE EMOTIONAL RESILIENCY
- This benefit might be my favorite of all. In my opinion, emotional resiliency is the biggest factor is determining success both athletically, and in life. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness for 3 consecutive days can increase one's resilience to psychological stress.
- The psychological and physiological impacts of high stress levels have been well documented. Mindfulness helps lower the physiological markers of stress and improves the brains ability to manage stressful situations.
There are many, many more benefits of practicing mindfulness. To read more about them, click here.
How Can You Practice Mindfulness?
There are many different methods to practice mindfulness. But the central theme in all these methods is to have a "moment by moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations". The idea is to let these feeling allow these thoughts, feelings, and sensations to come and go without judgement. Here are some of the ways that I like to practice mindfulness.
1) Gratitude Journaling
Journaling is something that is absolutely integral to my morning routine. There are many ways to do it, but essentially you write down things that you are grateful for in your life. They don't always have to be obvious ones like good health, and family. Focus on small things like the shining sun, or a bid chirping outside. This helps focus you on your surroundings and more importantly, what is present around you.
Tip: Write down 3 things your are grateful for every morning. Try and focus on friendships, opportunities, and things that you may take for granted.
2) Deep Breathing
This technique is probably the easiest to implement, and can take just seconds do. All you do is take several deep diaphragm breaths. Instead of letting your mind race around, focus your energy internally. Focus in on your breathing and how your body is feeling. Pay attention to your heart rate, pay attention to the energy flowing through your body.
Tip: Use "breaths of 4". Take 4 seconds to inhale, hold 4 seconds, and exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat for 4 breaths.
3) Get Outside
Sometimes we can become prisoners of our surroundings. When we sit in one place too long we become numb to it. For example, now matter how lavish your house is, after a while, it kinda just becomes "your house". You get used to it. One of the best ways to change up your surroundings and truly appreciate what's out there is to venture outside in nature. Nature is pure, nature is beautiful...and often times we forget that. It's important to get outside and realize of great the small stuff can be.
Tip: Skip in the gym one weekend and do a hike instead. Better yet, go on that hike solo. Pay attention whats around you, and embrace what's come in and out of that brain of yours.
As you can see, mindfulness is not some complicated spiritual ritual that only the enlightened can do. Anyone can benefit from it, and anyone can do it. Normally, to encourage you guys implement a technique, I would close an article by telling you something like "GO, TAKE ACTION!"...But instead, I want you to "Stop, take a minute...and breathe."