Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present purposefully. You can master it through meditation or some other mind-training exercises.
“Awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings,” cultivated is through meditation “in which a person focuses attention on his or her breathing and thoughts, feelings, and sensations are experienced freely as they arise.”The APA Dictionary of Psychology, Second Edition
When you practice mindfulness, you pay attention to your thoughts and emotions. But you do not judge them nor do you categorize them as good or bad. You simply become aware of your thoughts and everything that is going around you.
Mindfulness practice was not well-received in the west until the 1970s. It grew in popularity only after Jon Kabat-Zinn took an initiative and introduced mindfulness in medicine and health care.
Jon was one of the disciples of Zen Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh, Philip Kapleau, and Seun Sahn. He used his knowledge from Buddhist teachings and integrated it with scientific findings. He founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts.
This program focuses on mindfulness techniques in identifying and managing stress. The program was a success and is being offered by different health organizations.
The practice of mindfulness is now used in treating a variety of health conditions. It helps in treating depression and reducing stress and anxiety. It is also effective in rehabilitating patients with chronic diseases and drug addiction.
Programs based on mindfulness models are being adopted at hospitals, schools, and offices. Since mindfulness practices are also found effective in managing weight and slow aging.
Related: 50 Motivating Mindfulness Quotes.
Why practice mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness brings about positive changes in your mind body and soul. In other words, mindfulness training helps to transform your body mind and soul.
The changes may be physical, mental, as well as social. They may be temporary or permanent in nature. Some consider these changes as benefits of practicing mindfulness.
Here are 10 physical as well as mental benefits of mindfulness.
1. Helps to tap into the subconscious at will. Studies suggest that Practicing mindfulness helps to tap into your subconscious mind. It takes control back from your subconscious mind and gives it to your conscious self.
2. Provides peace of mind. A healthy peaceful mind is one of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. A study suggests that mindfulness techniques bring peace to your wondering mind.
3. Develops positive emotions. According to a post published in NCBI, mindfulness training can help develop positive emotions. The study have shown promise for increasing positive emotions in people.
4. Mindfulness stress reduction. A study suggests that mindfulness training helps to mitigate work stress. Becoming mindful alone can take care of most of your day to day work stress.
5. Help reduce post-traumatic stress disorder. A randomized controlled trial of the MBSR program in treating post-traumatic stress disorder found significant improvement in PTSD.
6. Increased cognitive functions. A study suggests that mindfulness training helps to improved cognition. Practicing mindfulness for 4 days can enhance the ability to sustain attention. Short-term mindfulness sessions were found effective in improving visuospatial processing and working memory.
7. Helps to improve anxiety. A research report published on JAMA Network found mindfulness meditation help to improve anxiety. It is also found that mindfulness training may help to ease psychological stresses like anxiety and depression.
8. Useful in treating depression. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is useful in treating depression symptoms. It was found effective in reducing relapse in people who have had previous episodes of major depression.
9. Can fight obesity. A study suggests that practicing mindfulness helps obese people lose weight. Another study on the effects of mindfulness training on weight loss and health-related behaviors in adults with overweight and obesity suggests that mindfulness training helps people adopt healthier behaviors.
10. Promotes creativity. A study suggests that 10 to 12 minutes of mindfulness practices showed significant growth in creativity. It was also found that mindfulness practices can help to improve skills that support creativity.
Relates: 5 Benefits of Meditation.
How to practice mindfulness?
There are many ways of becoming mindful. I’ve listed some of my favorite mindfulness exercises for you to try.
Here are five mindfulness exercises for attaining a peaceful mind.
1. Mindful Breathing or Breath Awareness. Mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati) is the most widely used Buddhist method for contemplating bodily phenomena. It requires you to focus on your breathing the entire time.
2. Mindfulness Meditation. It is a form of mindfulness exercise. Practicing mindfulness meditation is effective in relieving your psychological stresses.
3. Body Scan Meditation. It is a powerful mindfulness technique in relieving muscle tension. When you practice body scan meditation, you tense and relax a set of muscles as you breathe in and out. Doing so helps to relieve all kinds of muscle tension.
4. Mindful Pause. It is a mindfulness exercise that you can practice anytime and anywhere. It is a two-step exercise. First, pause and feel your breath for about 10-15 minutes. Second, question yourself- Which of my character strengths will I bring forward right now? Practicing mindfulness pause can help you build resilience and happiness. Both are important for a healthy relationship.
5. Love-Kindness Meditation. Lovingkindness meditation is also known as Metta Prayer. It is one of the most effective mindfulness exercises that focuses on practicing gratitude. It teaches you to act with compassion toward all beings. While practicing love-kindness meditation, you start by blessing yourself first. You then expand outward wishing good health, good fortune, and good life for the people around you.
Top Five Mindfulness Activities
Some activities support and incorporate mindfulness. Mindfulness activities help you to become calm, focused, and self-aware. You’re in control of your emotions which is a good thing. Since things can get complicated when your emotions control you.
Here are top five mindfulness activities to help you develop a creative mind.
1. Mindful eating. It is a mindfulness practice that involves paying absolute attention to the food you’re eating. You pay attention to the taste, its texture, coloring, smell and enjoy every bit of it. It helps to develop a healthy eating habit and helps to lose weight.
2. Mindful Listening. It requires the user to listen without judgment and interruption while being aware of your internal thoughts. When someone is talking to you, just listen to what he/she has to say without intervention.
3. Mindful Walking. It is one of the easiest and most effective mindfulness activities. Mindfulness walking means that you become aware of your every step and your breath.
4. Mindful Seeing. It is a mindfulness practice of observing and constantly noticing everything within your field of vision.
5. Stillness exercise. It is a form of meditation. While practicing stillness, you simply focus on your breath or chant a mantra while sitting still.
6 Best Mindfulness Books of 2021
Mindfulness books are a great way of gaining insight into the practice of mindfulness. They can help you connect your mind body and soul. They can also assist you in giving your life a new direction.
Mindfulness books can be your guide at times of need. I’ve selected some of my favorites mindfulness books to help you in your mindfulness journey.
Here is a list of six best-selling mindfulness books that you can buy online.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975) – a mindfulness book by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Wherever You Go There You Are (1994)– a mindfulness book by Jon Kabat-Jinn
- The Power of Now (1997) – a mindfulness book by Eckhart Tolle
- Mindfulness For Beginners (2006) – another mindfulness book by Jon Kabat-Jinn
- The Mindful Way Through Depression (2007) – a mindfulness book by J.Mark G. Williams
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Depression, second edition (2012) – by Zindel Siegal
Top 5 Free Mindfulness Apps of 2021
Mindfulness apps these days are loaded with tons of useful features to help you with your mindfulness practice. They are specifically designed to help you with your mindfulness training. They also come with a user-friendly interface so that you won’t have any problem using the app itself.
There are currently hundreds of mindfulness apps available online. I’ve listed some of the most popular free mindfulness apps for android and iOS.
A. For Android Users
Here are top five mindfulness apps that you can download from the Google Play Store for Free. Simply click on the given link to download the apps for free of charge.
- Insight Timer App
- UCLA Mindful App
- Smiling Mind App
- MyLife Meditation: Meditation, Relaxation, and Sleep Better App
- Healthy Minds Program App
B. For iOS Users
Here are top five free mindfulness apps for the iOS users that are helpful in cultivating mindfulness. Just click on the given link to download the app of your preference.
- Headspace App
- Insight Timer App
- MyLife Meditation: Meditation, Relaxation, and Sleep Better App
Here’s a video by Judson Brewer on a simple way to break a bad habit with mindfulness training.
Mindfulness is a healthy practice of living in present and enjoying every single second of it. Practicing mindfulness daily is helpful in improving your mood and concentration.
Mindfulness training can ease all kinds of chronic pains. You also have lower chances of having an anxiety attack which is a good thing.
Try practicing mindfulness meditation daily for about 10-15 minutes if possible. Else you can always implement mindfulness exercises into your busy schedule.
I hope this article on mindfulness was helpful to you. If you have any questions or queries regarding mindfulness, kindly comment down below. I shall do my best to address them in the earliest. Have a great day and keep meditating 🙂