The "what" and the "how" of mindfulness

Although we hear the term mindfulness almost everywhere nowadays, many people would still awkwardly admit that they struggle to pinpoint exactly what it means.


If you recognize yourself in this, read this article to gain a simple understanding of what it means to be mindful as well as a few tips on how to be more mindful in your daily life.

Although we hear the term mindfulness almost everywhere nowadays, many people would still awkwardly admit that they struggle to pinpoint exactly what it means.  If you recognize yourself in this, read this article to gain a simple understanding of what it means to be mindful as well as a few tips on how to be more mindful in your daily life.

Us humans are great at planning our future and remembering things that have happened in the past.


In fact, we’re so great at it that we spend the majority of our lives either anticipating future events or dwelling on past occurrences.


While it’s great to be able to learn from our past and plan for the future, the majority of us miss out on our lives here and now.


By doing that, we experience time going very fast, as well as stress, anxiety, and depression can creep up at some point in our lives.


How to be mindful

Mindfulness is scientifically proven to help with those problems (1).


What is mindfulness

The solution is to start living more in the present moment, not just with our bodies but also with our minds.


To do this, you have to become aware of the present moment.


How to practice mindfulness

Being mindful means to be completely aware of where you are and what you’re doing right here and right now.


It’s as simple as that.


How is mindfulness practiced

However, of course, it’s easier said than done.


It is indeed difficult to “ignore” the thoughts that keep running through your head and distracting you as soon as you try to become present and aware of this moment.


That’s why I compiled a list of several tips on how to become aware of the present moment:


1. Observe your thoughts here and now

Observe your thoughts here and now

As you are reading this, take a moment, and just observe the thoughts that start running through your mind. Think of yourself as the watcher of your thoughts and do not judge them, or try to change them in any way.


Did you notice that there’s another layer in your mind, the one that observes the thoughts?

Did you have any thoughts at all as you were focusing on observing them?


Oftentimes, when we try to observe our thoughts, we might notice that no thoughts appear for a little while, which means that we are being truly mindful of the present moment.


But it is also as great if some thoughts appear because it allows you to practice not interacting with them and just observe.


2. Observe your surroundings

Observe your surroundings

Take a moment to observe everything that’s around you. Start with things that are near you, or even your own hands or the fabric of your shirt.


Notice the colors, the patterns and how things move.


Then start moving your gaze further and stop for a little while trying to notice every little detail of every part you are looking at.


3. Mindful walking

Mindful walking

Take a moment the next time you walk somewhere to just observe how your body moves as you walk.


Observe how your legs move without you having to consciously control them. Observe the feeling in your feet as they touch the ground and where exactly in your feet do you feel the pressure with each part of the step.


Observe your body posture and feel how your spine holds you upright. Observe how your arms move with each step.


4. Observe your breath

Observe your breath. Mindful breathing

You can do this almost anytime, anywhere. Just start observing how the air flows in through your nose and keeps moving down to your lungs and your diaphragm expands.


Now also follow your breath moving outwards. Feel the air coming out your nose, and your chest and belly contracting.


Keep observing your breathing for as long as you feel like.


5. Mindful eating/drinking

Mindful eating or drinking

Next time you eat or drink something, try taking at least one truly mindful bite or sip.


Feel the food or beverage enter your mouth. Observe the change in temperature and texture.


Observe all the tastes that you can feel without trying to label them as good or bad. Just try to observe as much feeling, texture, and taste as possible.


6. Observe all the smells around you

Observe smells around you

Try this right away, by taking a truly mindful breath and trying to observe as many smells around you as possible.


It’s great to do this outdoors, as there might be more different smells than at home, however, this can also be done at any time and anywhere.

If you’ve tried any of the above exercised while reading this post, congratulations - you’ve just been mindful!


If you’re new to mindfulness, start by incorporating one of these little exercises into your day. With time, you will be able to combine several of them together and expand your mindful window throughout your day.


Before you go


Mindfulness is really just being aware and conscious of the present moment, accepting the present moment that you are in, without judging the situation, or getting involved in your thoughts.


Continue following my blog for even more tips on how to be mindful.


By incorporating more mindfulness into your life you will become less prone to stress and mental health problems, as well as might notice that time slows down a bit.


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I am very interested to hear your opinion and tips on what you'd like to read about in this blog, so you are more than welcome to leave a comment here or contact me at info@thegreatermindfulness.com

Remember to be mindful!

Laura | MSc in Medical Science, Certified Mindfulness Life Coach



References

1. Grossman, Paul, et al. "Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis." Journal of psychosomatic research 57.1 (2004): 35-43.