Whether you’ve been practicing mindfulness for years or are just getting started, a quick refresher on mindfulness theory is always in style! With plenty of potential benefits, it’s no wonder that mindfulness is an increasingly popular way to get in touch with your spiritual side. If you’re looking for ways to center yourself, this is an excellent place to begin.
Today we’re going to give a definition to mindfulness, discuss mindfulness theory, and talk about how mindfulness can contribute to your overall health. Wellness is holistic, and taking a few minutes to center yourself can prove immensely productive. Let’s get started.
What is Mindfulness?
First, let’s tackle the task of defining “mindfulness.” The word itself suggests that your mind is wholly present and is attending to what is unfolding in front of you. When you’re being mindful, you’re paying attention to what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with and the space you’re in.
As human beings, mindfulness doesn’t always come easily to us. It’s easy for the mind to escape the present and for our brains to begin thinking about the past or future. This is often responsible for cultivating anxiety. That’s why it’s a practice we have to grow and develop like a muscle.
That being said, being a mindful individual isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is something that you can make a renewed commitment to each and every day. When you’re mindful, you’re in the moment. You’re not overly reactive to what’s occurring in your surroundings. Finally, you’re also aware of where you are and the space you’re occupying.
If you want to know what mindfulness feels like, you should consider trying it out. If you drift away for a few minutes, mindfulness can help snap you back into reality. We also want to note that mindfulness is innate to every human being, and it’s not something you can acquire. The potential to be mindful already exists in you--all you have to do is tap into it.
What is Mindfulness Theory?
Now that we’ve given a definition to the term mindfulness, let’s discuss an important theory referred to as Mindfulness-to-Meaning Theory. Spoiler alert: powerful stuff ahead!
This theory essentially proposes that there’s an established relationship between mindfulness and measures of wellbeing, and that these may be because of its effects on emotional regulation. What exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down more.
Mindfulness is able to cultivate flexible awareness. This means that you’re going to be acutely aware of the situations you’re in, and pay more attention to the act of being present than your feelings. This provides us with the ability to essentially suspend automatic emotions, thoughts, and actions in the moment.
The result of this is distance between negative emotional experiences and the thoughts or feelings that would usually be cultivated as a result. For this reason, mindfulness can truly be helpful when it comes to centering yourself, especially away from negative thoughts.
The Types of Mindfulness Practice
There are several different types of mindfulness practices, and you might have to try a few to find one that feels right in your life. Therefore, try not to be too harsh or judgemental if the first one doesn’t click; it’s okay if it takes you a few tries to find the right type of mindfulness for you!
Mindfulness is really a type of meditation, so practicing can help cultivate it. Remember: you already have everything you need to be mindful inside you, you only have to grow that awareness.
There are several types of mindfulness exercises that you might explore:
- Paying attention
- Living in the moment
- Accepting yourself as you are
- Focusing on breathing
- Sitting meditation
- Doing a “body scan” meditation practice
- Walking meditation
The first way that you can practice mindfulness is by being intentional about noticing things in your environment. Slowing down and actually noticing the intricacies of our busy world can be difficult. You can interject short pauses into your daily life where you pause to experience the space you’re in. This might include touch, sound, sight, smell, or even taste. Including the sense can help you be more mindful.
Living in the Moment
Another way that you can cultivate mindfulness is being intentional about the way you approach things. Make an active decision to bring an accepting, open attention to everything you do. Finding joy in the simplest of pleasures can also help.
Accepting Yourself as you Are
Think about yourself. Is the first thing that pops into your head a laundry list of things you’d like to change? If so, mindfulness can help. How do you treat your friends? Is it different than how you treat yourself? Make a conscious effort to treat yourself in a more positive manner.
Focusing on Breathing
Breathing exercises can be extremely impactful when it comes to eliminating negative thoughts. If a negative thought pops into your mind, sit down. Take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Do this several times and you’ll begin feeling more centered.
If you’re looking to add more structure to your mindfulness routine, sitting meditation might be what you’re looking for. This practice is simple. It requires sitting comfortably with your back straight and keeping your feet flat on the floor. Your hands should be in your lap. Focus on breathing through your nose, and feel your breath moving in and out of the body. Meditation takes practice, so don’t be dismayed if you get caught up with physical sensations or thoughts. Simply note these experiences and focus back on your breath.
Doing a “Body Scan” Meditation Practice
This meditation is a way to increase mindfulness and get in touch with your physical body. Lie on your back and extend your legs. Your arms should be at your sides, with palms facing up. Now, focus your attention deliberately on each part of your body, in order. Start from your toes and work your way up to your head. Be aware of thoughts, feelings, or emotions that pop up and you associate with your body parts.
Finally, we have walking meditation. To complete this mindfulness exercise, find a place that’s about 10 to 20 feet in length, and very quiet. Walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, and the sensations of standing. When you reach the end of the path, turn and continue walking. Stay aware of the sensations you experience.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
There are innumerable benefits that come with including mindfulness practices into your wellness routine. You will find that it can significantly impact your mental health in a positive way.
In addition, it can support cardiovascular health, help regulate blood pressure, help improve sleep and even potentially help alleviate chronic pain. If you’re looking to see how mindfulness can benefit you, give it a try. You won’t regret it.
When Should I Complete Mindfulness Practices?
Mindfulness practices are certainly not one size fits all, so you should find a routine that works for you. Additionally, when you should practice and how often depends on your availability to do so, and that is impacted by the type of exercise you plan on doing.
A simple mindfulness exercise can occur anywhere and at any time. Research supports that engaging with your senses while you’re in nature can be exceptionally beneficial. If you’re looking to do a more structured exercise, you’re going to need to set aside time to do so. This means you’ll have to seek out a quiet place where you won’t get distracted or interrupted. These are especially well suited for early mornings or right before you begin your daily routine.
Of course, you can decide to complete a mindfulness practice when you’re feeling overwhelmed or have the time. Nevertheless, making mindfulness part of your everyday routine can have a variety of benefits.
A great way to start is by setting a goal of practicing mindfulness daily for six months. Once you get comfortable, you might begin to find that it becomes effortless. Mindfulness can become your way of life if you allow it to. When you practice mindfulness, think to yourself that you’re committing to centering, reconnecting with, and nurturing your soul.
Wellness is holistic, and a large part of that is taking care of yourself spiritually. Still, it’s important to not neglect taking care of your physical body. Including vitamin supplements into your diet is a great way to ensure that you’re doing that, too.
Mindfulness can seem intimidating at first, but stick with it and we know you’ll get the hang of it. Good luck!