If you’ve spent anytime on Instagram lately you’ve probably heard about mindfulness for health, which is a confusing term because I have yet to meet someone who never uses their mind. But Mindfulness is much more than just having brain impulses. Mindfulness is essentially just awareness. Being in tune with how you feel, what is going on around you, and not letting time simply slip by. This practice can help reduce stress, increase happiness, and minimize the anxieties of life.
What does mindfulness look like in one’s everyday life? How exactly does one begin to be mindful?
Basic Awareness Exercise
A great way to get started implementing mindfulness into your everyday life is through a simple awareness exercise. Start by finding a quiet space and getting as comfortable as you can. Do whatever your body feels best doing, whether it be sitting on a mat or cushion, laying down, or even sitting in a chair with your eyes closed.
Think about your day and just allow whatever thoughts that are most prominent come to the forefront. What is dominating your thoughts? Notice the thoughts that are in your head, but don’t judge, just observe.
Second, think about what you may grateful for today, in this moment. What is negative in your mind today? Where are your thoughts stalled, in the past, or dwelling on the future?
Once you have noticed all of the distractions you may be facing, take time to think about this moment, and how you may feel differently after observing your thoughts from somewhat of a distance. The point of this exercise is to bring your thoughts to the here and now, so ask yourself how you can focus on the former instead of what may have happened to you earlier.
This exercise is a great first step in being mindful by taking a minute or two to literally just ask yourself, how are you, how are you really doing today?
Three Minute Breathing Exercise
This exercise is a simple way to practice focusing on your breath and indirectly leaving other thoughts behind. Start by getting into a comfortable position and closing your eyes after setting a timer for 3 minutes.
Begin this practice by turning your attention toward your breath. Take however long you need to in this.
Once you are comfortable with your pace of breath and feel centered around it, start to count the length of your inhales and exhales. Spend however long you need simply observing the length in seconds of your inhales and exhales, noticing if one if longer than the other or if they are the same.
Next begin breathing in away that makes your exhales and inhales start to become the same length of time. It does not matter what the length is, just focus on getting the inhales and exhales to take the same length of time. Do this for the remainder of the 3 minutes, or as long as you feel you need to.
This is a great way to become more mindful in your physical body and can be done as a form of meditation as well. This is typically done laying down, although if sitting or even standing is more comfortable for you go ahead and do that.
Start by taking a few deep breaths. Keep your gaze soft or close your eyes if you will be distracted by your surroundings.
After you observe your breathing for however long feels best, turn your attention to your body. Note how present you feel (perhaps you will want to rate yourself on a scale from 1-10 on the level of awareness you believe you have at this time).
Once your attention is fully on your body, begin to bring awareness to each individual part. Start with your feet, then move up to your legs, then groin, hands, belly, arms, lungs, neck & throat, jaw. Stop at each location and notice how you may be feeling in this part. What do you notice/what are you thankful for/what part hurts? Work your way up to your face and stop there for a bit. Are your eyebrows furrowed? Where are you holding your tension?
Then turn your attention back to your entire body as a whole. Breath for a few seconds, or however long feels good.
Maybe rate yourself again on your level of mindfulness, noting if any changes have occurred or if this number has remained the same.
Observe your breath for several more iterations, then slowly flutter your eyes open and bring your attention back to your location.
Does Your Mind Want More?
Breaking the cycle of mindless rushing that we all tend to fall into does not take a huge time commitment. In fact, it does not require anything of you but that you pause, listen, and breathe. For more mindfulness for health tips and tricks, check out my blog here!