Mindfulness is focusing on “what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.” In other words, it’s being mentally aware of something or of what you’re doing at the moment. Being creatures of the 21st century we’re too caught up in the rush and demands of our everyday lives that we forget to slow down. We fleet from task to task trying to zoom from checklist to checklist, just focusing on getting there. Mindfulness calls everyone to pause and enjoy the journey because it only happens once.
Practicing mindfulness has so many benefits such as increased concentration, relaxed brain and body, improved sleep, and more. All this at no cost since you can do mindfulness exercises anytime, anywhere without any props. You’ve got nothing to lose and a balanced, stress-managed life to gain!
You can start including mindfulness in your everyday life starting with…
Did you know that on average, humans take about 20,000 breaths per day? That’s a function of our body that doesn’t need a conscious decision but this is the exact reason why we have to practice mindful breathing. It’s an underrated effective relaxation technique many experts swear by.
Taking deep, long breaths and feeling every inhale and exhale are proven to manage stress levels in the body. Mindful breathing helps you concentrate and even helps increase blood oxygen levels. The next time you’re tense or stressed, go to a corner and practice taking deep, lungfuls of air to clear your mind.
Meditation body scan
One relaxing mindfulness practice is to do a mental body scan. It lets you pay close attention to each part of your body from head to toe, feeling every ache, pain, rhythm, and tension. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 30-minute Body Scan Exercise is a good guide if this is your first time. For maximum relaxation, find a corner or a dim room and lie flat on your back. As you listen to the video, you might feel like you’re floating and weightless. Once you open your eyes, you’ll be relaxed and reset.
Wake up with a purpose
What we do first thing in the morning has the power to shape how the rest of our day will go. Do you look at your phone and scroll through the 875 emails? How about scrolling through the day’s headlines and finding that they’re as stressful as yesterday’s? That won’t do.
Wake up with a purpose and be intentional about it. Do short breathing exercises. In your mind, establish a goal for the day. What do you want to accomplish by the time the sun sets today? Your purpose will keep you from running around like a headless chicken throughout the day.
Mindfulness can benefit not only you but everyone around you as well. Focusing your senses on the present does not only apply to your work and your chores, it also applies to the people you interact with. Being present during conversations will help you become a better friend, sibling, child, spouse, etc. Mindful listening does two things: it lets the other person know feel seen and heard since you’re directing your full attention to them, and it helps you create a better response to whatever it is they’re telling you.
Stop ruminating about the past
Ruminating about your past, negative emotions, or unpleasant consequences is an “unhealthy pattern of behavior.” You’re repeating all the bad moments in your head and it’s bound to stress you out. Mindfulness is a healthy practice that puts a stop to all that and focuses your energy on the present. You can’t do anything about the past but you can do something about this moment right here, right now.
Stop worrying about the future
If dwelling in the past isn’t healthy, so is worrying about the future. You can’t control the future any more than you can change the past. It’s unpredictable. Ergo, worrying about it is futile and it will add unnecessary stress. That isn’t to say you should go and do anything you want — your actions in the present are huge elements in determining your future.
Be in the moment
You already know ruminating about the past is unhealthy and worrying about the future is useless. Mindfulness requires you to be present. Whether you’re washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or simply eating lunch, practice being there in the moment. Too often when we’ve got so much on our plates we tend to think about the next task while accomplishing the one before it. The constant state of being tense with expectation is what’s causing us stress. Whenever you feel your mind drifting, gently pull it to the present and allow it to do one thing at a time.
Download a few apps to guide you
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Mindfulness can be practiced without the help of a gadget but you will be missing out on the best apps. vivo recently launched their v21 series dubbed as the New Portrait Master for its 44MP front camera. But aside from taking photos, it’s also handy for downloading your mindfulness and meditation apps. There’s Headspace, a guide to mindful meditation and sleep, MindShift CBT – Anxiety Relief, and Smiling Mind. Try a bunch of mindfulness apps to get a feel of what’s the best one for you.
If apps aren’t your thing but you want guided mindfulness sessions, no biggie. You can reach out to gurus like Imee Contreras, a Filipina UCLA-Trained Mindfulness Facilitator who can help you start incorporating mindfulness in your life. To get a taste of what that’s like, she hosts a Mindful Happy Hour every Thursday from 7:30 – 8:00 PM which you can attend for free!
Take mindful breaks, walks, showers
Now that you know mindfulness is paying full attention to the things happening around you and to the different sensations in your body, you can now apply it in your life.
Go for a walk and notice the clouds change color from the sunset. Feel your feet hitting the pavement or your breathing quicken from your pace. Look at the kids laughing at the park or dogs with their owners, going out for a quick walk too. Afterward, when you’re home, take a mindful shower. Smell the shampoo and soap, enjoy the feel of it lathering on your skin and the water running over your body. Just relax and free yourself from worries!
It’s possible to live a stress-free life if you know how to control your thoughts. Like with anything in life you’re trying out for the first time, practicing mindfulness might be a bit of a challenge to do consistently. But keep at it and you’ll thank yourself one day.