Mindfulness

March 25th, 2021

Welcome to our very first blog of 2021! As we transition into Spring and continue to navigate the changes of living in a pandemic, it is important to establish healthy practices and routines; especially as most of us have experienced challenges, loss, and frustration over the last year.

So what exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to a state of awareness and attention with a focus of being present. This is done by becoming aware of one’s surroundings and inner experiences (e.g., sensations, thoughts, and feelings) without judgement and/or avoidance. Mindfulness is made up of two key components: acknowledging what one is experiencing and accepting it for what it is without criticism.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is embedded in many religions but is widely known for its deep roots in Buddhist and Hindu teachings, which aim to guide its followers to enlightenment. The surge in mindfulness’ popularity in Western and mainstream societies is strongly associated with the increase of academic literature regarding mindful practices in the 1950s – 1970s. 

Practicing mindfulness possesses many benefits that impact the main areas of life: mental and physical health, our relationships, our work, as well as overall quality of life.

How can we practice mindfulness?

There are various ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life. For example, we can eat mindfully by eating without distractions (e.g., chewing with our eyes closed or not eating while on our phones). Or, we can try to be more aware of the sensations in our body (e.g., how our feet feel on the floor or how clothes feel on our skin).

Below are some instructions on how to practice mindfulness more intentionally:

  1. Take a seat. Find a comfy place in your home to sit that is free of distractions.
  2. Set a time limit. Most people start with 5 minutes and work up from there.
  3. Notice your body. Pay attention to how your body feels while seated.
  4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale.
  5. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will wander (e.g., “How long has it been? What should I cook for dinner?”) When this happens, return your focus to your breath.
  6. Be kind to your wandering mind. Being in the moment is hard, especially when our lives are so full of things that want/need our attention (e.g., children, pets, chores, etc.) Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are not able to be fully present, especially when you are first starting out.

Written by Brittny Hurst, Guest Blogger

Useful Links

Basic information about mindfulness and different practices: Getting Started with Mindfulness – Mindful

Tips on practicing mindfulness: How to Practice Mindfulness – Mindful

Breakdown of different types of meditations with Headspace: 16 Types of Meditation – Headspace

Apps: Best Meditation Apps (healthline.com)

Guided meditations: Guided Meditations – UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center – Los Angeles, CA (uclahealth.org)

Additional resources: Top 25 Best Meditation Resources and Guided Meditation Apps (psycom.net)

References

Davis, D. M., PhD, & Hayes, J. A., PhD. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness? Monitor on Psychology, 43(7). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner

Keng, S. J., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. U. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041-1056. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006

Mindfulness. (n.d.). Retrieved January 7, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/mindfulness

Moore, C., MBA. (2020, October 13). What is mindfulness? Definition + benefits (Incl. Psychology). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-mindfulness/

Selva, J., Bc.S. (2020, September 01). History of mindfulness: From East to West and religion to science. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/history-of-mindfulness/

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