You’ve probably heard of mindfulness, but might not be sure what it entails. Most people understand it’s connected to meditation somehow, and some imagine it’s the same thing. However, there are differences. Being mindful can help to relieve stress and make you feel calm, but you don’t have to do it sat cross-legged on a cushion with your eyes shut.
What is mindfulness?
As the name suggests, when you’re mindful, your mind is full. How can having a full mind be helpful when you’re stressed you may wonder? Well, rather than having a head full of unwanted thoughts, you plant subjects you want to think about that make you feel good.
While you’re focusing on a topic on purpose, negative thoughts have no space in which to proliferate. As such, you can enjoy a break from anxiety, a mini-vacation that stops stress growing.
Much of the time, stress mounts because people go over problems and fears until they seem insurmountable and consume every waking moment. Practicing mindfulness stops anxiety building and helps you experience a sense of calm.
Are you ready to try?
How to practice mindfulness
First decide what you want to fill your mind with, as you need to focus on one task or subject. You might carry out a practical activity, for instance, such as weeding the garden or walking. Alternatively, you may prefer to sit or lie down, and visualize a scene or object, or listen attentively to music.
When you’ve chosen a topic, pay attention only to what you’re doing. Let irrelevant thoughts come and go like clouds drifting in the breeze. When a worry arises, observe it briefly as though you are just witnessing it and return your attention to the task at hand.
The more you focus, the less intrusive thoughts will appear. One way to hone your attention and become mindful fast is to concentrate on what you are experiencing in the moment via your senses.
If you’re gardening, for example, you can smell the earth while you’re working and feel the soil on your hands. You will also see details, like the tiny roots of plants and the wildlife around you. Plus, you might hear birdsong, or children playing in the distance.
Become immersed in the sensual experience, and you’ll live in the present rather than thinking about the past or future. Stress mainly stems from reflecting on events that have happened or those you anticipate occurring. Little pressure exists in the moment, which is why mindfulness is powerful.
Practice being mindful daily, and you’ll be more adept at honing your attention and staying present. Eventually, you’ll be able to focus well, and stress will fade when you choose to live in the here and now.