What is Mindfulness? Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands.” How often do we do this in our daily lives? How often do we find ourselves truly taking in the present moment? Doing this means not doing the following…daydreaming, zoning out, reflecting on the past, thinking about the future, or multitasking. This can be a challenge for many of us, probably most of us. Although challenging, it is possible, and the benefits are amazing!
What Benefits Can Come Out of Being Mindful?
Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and emotional disturbances. It has been shown to dissipate pain and unwanted behaviors. It has also been shown to improve sleep and focus. By improving our emotional state and sleep, we give our bodies an even greater gift, by preventing health issues down the road as a result of stress, emotional lows, lack of sleep, and so forth.
Mindfulness is being engaged in the present moment. It is paying attention to what you are doing and feeling moment by moment. If doing this is a challenge for you, one of the best ways to practice is through meditation. Learn more about defining mindfulness here.
Meditation can be achieved by sitting quietly somewhere for an extended (or not so extended) period of time. Most people will choose to close their eyes and focus on their breath, a sound in the room, a prayer or chant, or perhaps a mental image. Others choose to keep their eyes open but focused on an object such as an image or a lit candle. During this time your focus should remain on the object, image, sound, breath, etc. that you have chosen. If your mind wanders, that is okay. Set those thoughts aside and bring your attention back to your initial focus. The more you practice these moments of meditation, the easier they will become. If you continue to find yourself struggling with mindful meditation, there are a number of meditation apps, CDs, and videos available to help you master this practice. Learn about how mindfulness meditation can positively change brain structure here.
Be happy! Be mindful!
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