Many people are trying to be more mindful these days – what’s the hype? Mindfulness can improve your ability to process emotions and thoughts, cope with stress and ease depression and anxiety. Mindfulness techniques help you focus your attention on specific sensations, mantras, breath patterns, movements, surroundings and pretty much anything else that comes to mind.
Everyone can benefit from mindfulness. It’s a tool that you can use to give your brain a break from the hustle and bustle to help you think more clearly, be more present and experience less judgment – toward yourself and others. Keep reading to learn five easy ways to be more mindful this year!
What Is the Definition of Mindfulness?
When you think of mindfulness, meditation may be the first thing that comes to mind. Meditation is indeed a popular, ancient mindfulness technique, but there are lots of other ways that you can add more Zen to your life. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines mindfulness as “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.”
Research shows that people who regularly practice mindfulness reap many benefits, which include but aren’t limited to:
- Stronger focus
- Stress reduction
- Less emotional reactivity
- Improved memory
- Stronger intuition/sense of self
How to Practice Mindfulness and Clear Your Mind
As you start your mindfulness journey, don’t lose sight of what inspired you to begin in the first place. Mindfulness shouldn’t feel overwhelming or negative at all. These simple mindfulness practices were designed to help you lean into a mindful state effortlessly.
1. Observe your movements.
Movement is an excellent way to practice mindfulness as it brings your awareness to your bodily sensations. Focus on how you feel as you walk around your neighborhood, stretch at your desk or hang out in a forward fold. Let yourself genuinely experience your movements with every step, twist or bend.
2. Spend time in nature.
Having a date with mother nature can be good for your mind, body and spirit as you get grounded and live in the present moment. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go off the grid or find a forest to take advantage of nature’s benefits!
Spending small amounts of time outside can deepen your connection with yourself, other people and the world at large. If you work a desk job, try going out for a walk during your next lunch break or plan a hike with your friends on your next day off. Even having a view of nature at your workspace can lead to greater life satisfaction, so grab some plants and place them on your desk to bring the outside to you.
3. Pay attention to your surroundings.
Do you ever sit and simply watch the world pass by? There can be something oddly please and relaxing about watching other people go about their everyday lives. It may seem mindless, but when you think about it, people-watching is rooted in mindfulness because it allows you to observe and be present in the moment.
The next time you’re at the airport, on a park bench or sipping coffee in a café, take note of how many observations you make to give you greater insight into yourself and how you move about the world.
4. Meditate however you want.
If you’re new to meditation, it’s important to know that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. There are lots of ways to meditate, and it’s okay if sitting cross-legged in silence doesn’t work for you. It may work for some people, but it isn’t the only way to meditate.
One of the biggest obstacles people face when they’re new to meditation or mindfulness is learning to feel comfortable in silence. That’s why there are meditative practices that can help you achieve a mindful state that don’t require you to sit in silence. You can work your way up to traditional meditation if you’d like, but if you’re not ready, try incorporating one of these meditative practices into your routine:
- It’s hard to be mindful when you have thoughts racing through your head. However, writing everything down on paper is a powerful way to clarify your thoughts and feelings, reduce stress and challenge your perspective. Journaling offers a space where you can check in with yourself and track your inner dialogue over time, so you can see what habits serve you and which ones do not.
- It’s not just for kids! Coloring is a great way to focus on what’s in front of you. Research has found that coloring mandalas, in particular, can help lower anxiety. Another study suggests that art therapy reduced symptoms of physical and emotional distress among female breast cancer patients during treatment.
- Finding a recipe, buying fresh ingredients and preparing a delicious meal forces you to focus on the present moment. Additionally, being aware of your cravings and the foods you put into your body can help you cultivate mindfulness. Plus, cooking for yourself or others is an act of love!
- Yoga and meditation go hand-in-hand. Familiarizing yourself with the principles of yoga, like breathwork, visualization and finding your Drishti (your focused gaze) is an excellent introduction to mindfulness.
5. Practice self-compassion.
Starting a new habit and being principled enough to make it part of your lifestyle can take time. That’s why self-compassion is so important when you begin your new mindfulness practice. It’s okay if you have days where you forget, aren’t consistent, or get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. No one is perfect! Make sure not to punish yourself for any slip-ups, which is the opposite of self-care! Being hard on yourself won’t serve you or your mindfulness practice, so be gentle on yourself.