What is mindfulness, what ways can mindfulness be practiced & how to find our mindfulness practice
Mindfulness is a word that we have been hearing in relation to psychological research, therapeutic approaches and a way of life. In simple terms mindfulness can be described as a state of active, open attention to the present moment. Mindfulness is currently used in various therapeutic approaches as incorporating mindfulness techniques has been known to be helpful in boosting the effectiveness of these techniques. For instance, mindfulness is a strong component of DBT and is known to be helpful in regulating emotions and learning to accept difficult situations as they are while also learning to cope with them. Furthermore, mindfulness techniques are also known to be effective in trauma informed care.
While mindfulness has been known to become a universal concept, it also extends to each individual personally and how they relate to this wide concept. Mindfulness can get overwhelming at times due to the pressure of practicing the “ right way”. There is no right way with mindfulness, it is how each individual finds what it means to them. A large part of mindfulness can be self exploration that comes before diving into it. Learning your patterns, triggers, anxieties and finding what heals you is a great way to start. This not only makes mindfulness as a practice more meaningful to you, but also makes the process feel less overwhelming.
There are different ways of practicing mindfulness -
Meditate : This does not have to be for hours or have a specific technique to it. Do it the way it feels the most natural to you. The easiest way is to start for a shorter amount of time and build it up if it is something that works for you. Going to a park, finding a quiet corner in your house or even meditating right before sleeping can be extremely helpful. An important thing to note here is that your mind will wander initially, but the crucial thing is to not get overwhelmed with this. It is totally normal and it gets better with practice. The idea of mindfulness is to live in the present moment but it takes practice, so be patient with yourself! Guided meditation is a great way to get into the practice of meditation if one finds it hard to simply sit silent with their thoughts.
Journal : This is a great way to organize your thoughts and declutter your mind. Focusing on your goals and present thoughts can help one to live more in the moment. Having a few daily journal prompts can be helpful in the beginning.
Positive affirmations : These can be useful to bring yourself back to the present moment while speaking to yourself in a positive and encouraging manner. This also can help in a way to talk to your inner child, self reflect and build your self esteem.
Guided breathing techniques : This can be helpful to center back to the present moment and rewind from stressful situations, anxiety, rumination etc. Guided breathing techniques are also known to bring alertness to our senses, which brings us closer to our mind-body connection. This is also a large component of mindfulness.
An important aspect to remember while learning how to find your mindfulness practice is that your mind will wander initially. You will have intrusive thoughts and it is absolutely normal. Being in the here and now is a challenging thing to learn therefore it takes time and effort. It is a skill learned over time that can be truly liberating. However, it is difficult so remember to take it slow and give yourself credit for trying. Mindfulness creates more self awareness and opens opportunities to enhance one’s life state if practiced correctly. Bringing yourself back to you after a long day of work, stress and chores can feel relaxing and bring you in a state of calmness. Remember, you are your biggest treasure and taking care of your mind, body and soul is a practice that evolves as you heal, learn and grow and that is why mindfulness is also considered a way of life. Mindfulness does not have to look fancy and you do not need to spend resources on it. Being present with yourself is the only thing to do in it. There are free resources such as guided meditation videos on youtube, worksheets to track your thoughts, journal prompts and even free classes to join for yoga, meditation or mindfulness based groups that can be simple ways to incorporate it in your daily routine.
By: Samah Nanda
Mental Health Counseling Intern