Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to present moment experiences with curiosity and compassion. In doing so, we learn to collaborate with our lives and be with our experiences, rather than resisting or fighting them. This is not giving up. Rather, it is being able to engage with what's happening without minimizing or catastrophizing without being in denial or being overwhelmed.
Benefits of Mindfulness
According to research, regular mindfulness can play an important role in managing anxiety and reducing stress. As a complement to standard medical and psychological treatments, mindfulness can relieve pain and symptoms of numerous conditions including high blood pressure, depression, and addiction.
2. Cognitive and Emotional Regulation
Mindfulness has been shown to promote stronger focus, memory, and problem solving, functions that are impacted negatively by stressful and traumatic conditions. Regular mindfulness practice improves the brain's capacity for decision making and emotional regulation.
Mindfulness cultivates agility and flexibility in attention, allowing us to more easily tune in to pleasant experiences that are always present: spring blossoms, blue skies, laughter and love. Similar to skiing or mountain biking, when facing life's uncertainties, it's helpful to focus on where we want to go rather than ruminating on the potential dangers.
How to practice mindfulness
Short practices such as these provide a taste of introductory practices that cultivate mindfulness awareness.
- Awareness of breath: Regular practice of this meditation cultivates awareness, concentration, and calmness.
- Body scan: This practice is an invitation to check in with the body to cultivate flexible attention and presence.
- Everyday mindfulness: This practice involves tuning in to the senses and bringing curious, caring attention to routine activities such as eating, driving, or hugging a loved one.
- S.T.O.P.: This informal mindfulness practice provides the mind and nervous system with needed breaks, allows us to check in with ourselves, and supports us in moving through the day with awareness.