Mindfulness is a technique which involves noticing what’s happening in the present moment, without judgement, and increasing your awareness of your mind, body or surroundings. It aims to help you increase your self-awareness, reduce stress, cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts, and choose how you respond to thoughts and feelings.
Keep reading to learn about some of the ways you can practise mindfulness. Habits to encourage mindfulness include:
1. Focusing on the present
The main aim of mindfulness is to improve your awareness of the present moment, allowing you time to process your thoughts and feelings in the moment, without also worrying about the past and future.
Try to intentionally bring your attention to your actions and your surroundings – don’t feel any pressure to feel a particular way what you are experiencing, but try to acknowledge and accept to what you are experiencing.
2. Noticing your thoughts
When distractions are not present, it can be overwhelming to be left with your own thoughts, and you can be bombarded by many thoughts and worries all at once. Mindfulness is not intended to get rid of these thoughts, but rather to acknowledge them and see them as mental events that come and go.
Some of the exercises discussed further down in this blog can give you ideas on how you can focus your thoughts.
3. Naming thoughts and feelings that you notice
Building on the previous point, naming specific thoughts and feelings as you experience them can help you to develop an awareness of them and recognise them going forward. Examples include “This is anxiety” or “This is the thought that my interview will not go well”.
4. Experiencing your environment
Increasing your awareness of your surroundings can also help you to stay in the present moment. Try to pay attention to what you can touch, see, hear, smell and taste as you go about your daily life.
5. Being consistent
It might help you to choose a particular time of day or activity during which you can practise awareness of the world around you, noticing the sights, smells and sound of your surrounding. Like any other skill, mindfulness requires regular practise in order to yield benefits.
6. Using small new experiences as a way to engage with your surroundings
Take the opportunity to try something new in your routine, such as taking a different route to work, or sitting somewhere different at lunch time, as use this as a way to pay attention to your surroundings, and notice what is different.
There are also a number of more structured techniques you can try, including:
7. Body scan meditation
For this exercise, focus your attention slowly and deliberately through each part of your body, moving from the top of your head down to your toes. Try to focus on the sensations of each part – this could include warmth, coldness, tension, or relaxation.
8. Mindful movement
Try incorporate mindfulness into your exercise. While walking or running for instance, you can try focusing on the feeling of your body moving, the feeling of different textures under your feet, and the breeze on your skin. This will help to keep you in the present moment.
9. Mindful colouring
Mindful colouring aims to bring your awareness to the present moment by asking you to focus on how you choose and apply colour to a design – similar to meditation, the idea is to let go of thoughts and worries about the past and future.
There are a multitude of mindful colouring books available to buy, along with many free resources for mindfulness colouring pages online.
The most straightforward mindfulness exercise is sitting meditation, and involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back to the present if your mind starts to wander.
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