You may not realize it, but you are constantly making judgments about your world. You make these judgments without even realizing that they’re happening because the human brain is designed to do this automatically. But what if there were times when you wanted to slow down and think before reacting? Maybe you want to be more creative or maybe just less stressed out. That’s where mindfulness comes in handy. With mindfulness, we learn how to cultivate awareness of our thoughts and feelings, as well as observe our reactions with openness and curiosity rather than judgment. This short guide will explore some ways that you can cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life so that you can enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing for yourself and those around you.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an attitude that fosters awareness, attention, and openness to experience. It’s all about being in the here and now, experiencing the world with curiosity while cultivating non-judgmental acceptance. For me, mindfulness helps me slow down and enjoy every moment more. It enriches my experiences with loved ones and allows me to be aware of my negative emotions.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
People who practice mindfulness report a greater sense of well-being both physically and emotionally. A British study found that mindfulness plays a role in how well people cope with pain. Mindfulness also helps people regulate their emotions and stress levels. Studies have shown that mindful meditation decreases the body’s response to stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, improves sleep quality, boosts self-awareness, enhances emotional intelligence, strengthens focus ability, cultivates empathy, and improves cognitive function.
Who can benefit from mindfulness?
Mindfulness is for everyone and anyone, regardless of your level of education or background. No matter who you are or what you do, cultivating a sense of awareness each day will enrich your life in many ways. There’s no time like the present to start practicing!
How do I start being more mindful?
To cultivate a sense of awareness each day try the following mindfulness practices.
Take time to be with yourself.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes if you like and notice your breathing: how it feels as you breathe in and out, and how your body feels as you breathe. Notice the sounds around you.
Set an intention for self-observation without judgment.
If a judgmental thought arises, acknowledge it and let it go. Bring your attention back to observing yourself with curiosity and openness, without judgment or resistance. Letting go of judgment will help you focus on your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, rather than projecting them into the past or future. This shift of perspective is incredibly beneficial to your well-being.
Enhance mindfulness at mealtime.
Instead of eating while watching television or reading a magazine, try savoring every bite of your food without distractions. Notice the colors, flavors, shapes, and texture of your food. If you like, eat with your non-dominant hand (a small change that will give you something else to focus on).
Practice mindfulness in your daily life.
When you’re brushing your teeth or showering, try paying attention to the physical sensations of holding the toothbrush or shampoo bottle. Take a moment to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as you go through your day. Practice mindfulness at work by focusing on one task at a time. Make sure to take breaks from sitting in front of the computer now and then, too!
Be open-minded about distractions.
If a distracting thought or emotion arises, acknowledge it and gently return to your intention of self-observation without judgment.
Practice mindfulness in your relationships with others.
As you interact with friends and family, don’t just think about what you’re going to say next in the conversation. Be fully present for the person you’re with, and listen to what they have to say. Be open-minded about distractions that come up during interactions with your loved ones, returning to self-observation without judgment when you notice them.
Practice mindfulness in nature.
Close your eyes for a moment and take in the sounds, smells, and sensations of nature around you. If you can’t get outside, sit by a window and take in the beauty of what you see.
Practice mindfulness while listening to music or meditating.
When you listen to music, focus on the emotions the song brings up for you instead of letting your mind wander to what you will be doing later that day.
Practice mindfulness when you’re with children or pets.
Pay attention to your interactions with children or pets – they are often very in tune with the present moment, which makes them great teachers!
How to start your day with an attitude of mindfulness.
Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual so you can start your day with an attitude of mindfulness. Gently open your eyes and notice the sensations in your body as you begin to move around. Take a moment to acknowledge any thoughts or feelings that come up for you – then let them go!
Practice openness, patience, and acceptance in your morning routine.
Ask yourself, “How can I do this with more acceptance?” Then, be patient with yourself as you go through your morning routine at a slower pace than usual – this will help you stay focused on the present moment.
Before going to bed for the night, take a few minutes to reflect on your day.
Notice any thoughts, feelings, or sensations that come up for you – then let them go. Focus on how grateful you are to have had another day. Use this time to acknowledge the experiences of your day without getting lost in thought about the past or future.
Practice mindfulness when eating a meal with others.
As you eat, take the time to ask how others experienced their day and genuinely listen to their responses. Also, instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, be fully present and engaged in the conversation – this will make dinner feel less like a chore and more like time spent with people who matter.
Practice mindfulness at work by focusing on one task at a time.
Don’t multitask! Notice distractions when they arise, but continue to focus on the task in front of you until it is complete before moving on to another thing.
How to communicate mindfully
Mindful communication can be defined as paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings and staying with the present moment.
It’s about listening fully without interruption. There are a lot of ways to communicate mindfully, from maintaining eye contact to listening attentively. These may seem like simple tasks, but they’re incredibly difficult to do when you’re tense or distracted.
Here are some tips for communicating more mindfully:
– Slow down your speech and focus on what you want to say.
– Keep a sense of humor and don’t take anything personally.
– Try not to lecture the other person about what they should do. Instead, try to understand and empathize.
– Be patient with others who communicate less mindfully than you do.
How to respond mindfully when someone else is frustrated or stressed.
When we see our loved ones struggle, we often want to help them relieve their stress as soon as possible – especially since we know exactly how they feel.
It’s important to remember that everyone has their challenges, and stressing out about them won’t help anyone.
Here are some tips for responding more mindfully when someone you care about is upset:
– Be kind and patient. Don’t judge or label what they’re feeling.
– Acknowledge their feelings, even if you don’t understand them.
– Don’t try to solve the problem. That responsibility belongs to the other person. Instead, be a supportive resource by asking questions that help clarify what they need right now and encourage them to come up with a plan of action.
Be mindful when reflecting on a challenging situation.
Take a moment to acknowledge any thoughts or feelings that come up for you – then let them go. Focus on how grateful you are that the experience taught you something new about yourself and how to move forward in life.
Mindfulness is an attitude of open curiosity, love, and acceptance. It’s all about being in the here and now, experiencing the world with awareness.
How to practice mindfulness meditation
The practice of mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to cultivate your awareness daily. Mindfulness meditation can help you create space between your thoughts and emotions, making it possible to be present with whatever feelings come up for you. And if you’re trying to quiet your mind by meditating, this might not be the best way to go about it. The goal of mindfulness meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or stop them in their tracks, but rather, to learn how to be with them in the moment.
Sit comfortably in any position that feels comfortable for you, with your back straight and belly gently resting against the surface below you. You may want to loosen any tight clothing or remove any shoes because these will only get in the way of being comfortable.
If your mind starts to wander, gently nudge it back towards your breath and carry on paying attention to that sensation.
When you’re ready, slowly bring your awareness to a thought or feeling that you’ve been experiencing recently. Take a neutral stance, noticing what comes up for you when you do this.
Remember that you’re practicing mindfulness of your thoughts, not to get rid of them or even to understand them better.
When you’re ready, slowly begin to bring your awareness back to the physical sensation of breathing in and out through your nose. If you feel any discomfort while doing so, come back to your breath when you’re ready.
Remember, the point of mindfulness meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or stop them in their tracks, but rather, to learn how to be with them in the moment.
Now that you’ve finished this brief activity, try bringing some mindfulness into your day-to-day life. Look around you with curiosity at the people, places, and things that surround you and allow yourself to experience them as if for the first time. Notice how it feels to be mindful and open to new experiences in your daily life.
More benefits of mindfulness
Use mindfulness to spread positivity
When you interact and respond mindfully, you are more conscious about what you say. You can use this extra split second to make a positive impact in everyday conversations. For example, you can express gratitude or offer support or encouragement without hesitation. Just a few positive words can brighten someone’s day.
How mindfulness can improve your relationships
Being mindful can help you connect with those around you. Mindful people are less judgmental and more compassionate towards others because they’re able to see themselves as part of a larger whole. Your connection with yourself – through mindfulness – is probably the most important factor in creating a connection with someone else.
How mindfulness can improve your work life
Whether you’re aware of it or not, stress is a big part of our lives.
Work-related stress stems from deadlines, difficult coworkers and managers, and everything in between. While we can’t completely eliminate stress from life, we can learn to manage our thoughts and actions in stressful situations.
To deal with stress more mindfully at work, try the following:
Make a conscious effort to be aware of your breathing when you feel yourself getting stressed.
Focus on what is happening right now and the task at hand.
Accept that you cannot control everything and instead focus on your current tasks and goals. You can attempt to influence others and future outcomes, but there will always be things outside of your control.
Take time out – even if it’s just for a few minutes – to relax your body and mind.
Learn how to say no! People-pleasing doesn’t have a place in mindful life, so take time out of each day to do something you enjoy.
Create boundaries with others. If someone is being too demanding or asking for too much, simply let them know that you’ll look into the situation and get back to them. This way, it doesn’t seem like you’re saying no but rather that you need more time to think things through.
Notice the voice in your head
The voice in our head can be extremely powerful.
It’s what guides you when you’re making decisions and shapes your relationships with others as well as with yourself. It also dictates the quality of your life. The voice in your head is not just a monologue – it’s a dialogue with yourself and sometimes others (depending on who you choose to listen to).
Imagine for a moment that someone tells you something. This information stays in your head and filters through various emotions and thoughts until it reaches its final destination- the voice in your head. The voice in your head repeats the message back to you, slightly altered or exaggerated, and then sends it back into the world through your words.
To become more mindful of this process, break down the way you talk to yourself by practicing journaling after a conversation with someone.
Write down every emotion you experience from the moment you begin talking about a certain topic. What emotions come up? How do they shift over time? How does the voice in your head react to what you’re sharing?
In addition, try to notice how your inner voice affects your relationships with others. For example, after a conflict or argument, ask yourself:
What is my inner voice saying?
Whose voice is it hearing and reacting to?
How do these voices affect my interactions with others?
Being present with your partner
Relationships can be tricky because there are so many emotions involved.
When we feel angry or frustrated with our partner, we spend a lot of time (often unconsciously) thinking about the incident. We replay our conversations and beat ourselves up about what we should have said or done differently instead of focusing on what is happening right now.
Focusing on the present moment has endless applications in relationships because it helps you be more connected and engaged with your significant other.
Pay attention to what is happening in the moment and be there, not just physically but mentally as well.
Understanding your emotions
Most of us have anger, sadness, fear, love, and joy running through our veins. Only when we pause long enough can we try to understand why we’re feeling the way that we are. The act of sitting still for a few minutes, focusing on your breath or whatever you choose to focus on during the meditation, allows you the time and space to identify how you’re truly feeling.
Becoming present with yourself/body
We live in a world that encourages us to look for validation from others. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others and worrying about how we measure up. This can cause you to forget about your needs.
If you’re trying to become more mindful, you need to focus on yourself/body instead of others/outcomes. Your body is the most precious gift that anyone can have and spending time with it is a chance to recognize this fact.
Practice yoga, spend some time in silence, or meditate. These are all things that can help you appreciate your body or honor it in some way.
In addition, try doing a “body scan” where you focus on feeling each part of your body. This is a great way to start becoming acutely aware of the things going on with your body and what you need/want from it.
There are many things you can do to cultivate mindfulness in your life. The time it takes is well worth it because the more mindful you become, the easier it is to choose responses that help you achieve your goals and live a happier, more fulfilled life!