Mental Check In
woman outdoors and practicing mindfulness and enjoying the moment

What is Mindfulness, and How Can it Help You?

By now, it’s likely that you’ve heard someone (or lots of people) talking about mindfulness. At this point, everyone from yoga instructors to corporate coaches are talking about it and how much it can change our lives.

Mindfulness can decrease stress, increase focus, lessen depression symptoms, and make us happier? Sign me up!

But what is mindfulness, exactly? How can it do all of those things?

Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

The Basics of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice is all about living in the moment: staying present and fully engaged, free from distraction or judgment, and not leaving the moment.

So, what’s the difference between mindfulness and what you’ve already been doing by being alive?

Mindfulness is more than just being physically in the moment. It’s about being there mentally.

We’re all constantly dealing with so much. You’ve got a deadline tomorrow, you’re still reeling over something that happened last week, and you have to pick the kids up at school this afternoon. It can be extremely difficult to be mentally in the moment when your mind has so much going on.

Mindfulness aims to clear out all that junk, and let you experience the present moment.

The practice is steeped in Eastern religions, most heavily Buddhism. The Buddha taught that mindfulness was the key to spiritual awakening.

But this practice isn’t limited to certain religions. At the core of this practice, it is a secular belief about living a different way of life. You don’t have to believe in any religion to see the amazing benefits it can bring you.

How Can Mindfulness Benefit Me?

These days, we’re constantly going — kind of like the Energizer Bunny. We’re so busy that we’re not even actually focusing on what we’re doing right now. Instead, we’re using half of our brainpower to focus on what has already happened, or what’s coming next.

That means that we rarely experience present events to their fullest extent. Besides, all the extra mental load is pretty exhausting.

Practicing mindfulness, and being more aware, has many health benefits for your life.

Mindfulness will absolutely help decrease stress — I promise. It’s been proven.

The practice can also increase your ability to relax, increase your appreciation, and increase your capacity for compassion.

But perhaps even more importantly, mindfulness has been proven to help people lessen depression and anxiety symptoms.

Getting Started

Plenty of people recommend meditation for mindfulness training. Meditating is a great way to practice being more mindful. Start small, with 5 minutes every morning or evening, and increase your time gradually.

If you need help getting started, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home. You can find plenty of guided meditations online if you need help at first with putting yourself in the right frame of mind. Even just a quick YouTube search will turn up plenty of results.

How it Works

Ultimately, it is about changing your mentality. You are more than your thoughts and you can control them. That means you can clear your head and be completely present.

Experience your day without judgment, and if you see yourself drifting away, consciously return your focus to the present moment. Sometimes this is exhausting, so start small.

Instead of half paying attention to your phone and half paying attention to your kids tonight, vow to focus on one thing. Put the phone down and give your kids your full focus. Engage them, and really listen to them.

Turn the TV off and settle into a quiet spot to read that book you keep putting off. Anytime you feel your mind drifting off the page and onto your tasks for tomorrow or the events of the day, pull yourself back to the present.

You’ll notice a world of difference when you focus completely.

The longer you spend consciously moving your mind to the very moment it is in, the easier it will become.

Many people report amazing psychological changes when they have implemented mindfulness in their daily lives, and it doesn’t cost a thing to try!

Kat Sweet

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