Submitted by: Danielle Smart
“If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down” Buddha
Mindfulness and meditation are terms that are often brought up when discussing self-care, but for many people can seem very intimidating to actually practice. Research has shown that benefits of practicing mindfulness on a regular basis include reducing cell damage, lengthening our lives, bolstering our immune system, improving our concentration, and reducing ruminative thinking that contributes to the high levels of stress which can help people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways(1). Practicing mindfulness, even for just five minutes a day, can be a great way to perform self-care. And remember: mindfulness is about practice, not mastery! Below are two simple exercises that you can practice anytime and anywhere to help increase your mindfulness(2):
- Our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, sound) can be a powerful influence on our thoughts and feelings, but rarely do we consciously pay attention to them. In this exercise, simply take note of where you are through acknowledging what your sense are experiencing. Get as comfortable as you can (sitting or standing, whichever you prefer) then name four things you can see, three things you can hear, two things you can feel, and one thing you can smell. You can do this as many times as you would like. The goal of this exercise is to focus on what you are experiencing and being aware of your body, rather than your thoughts.
- Think about practicing stillness; this can be as simple as focusing on your breath, a mantra, or an image. You can do this for five minutes, twenty minutes, or however long you choose to be still. Don’t worry if you cannot keep your focus the whole time; whenever your mind wanders off, notice the activity and gently redirect the attention back toward the primary focus. If you need a little more guidance, there are great meditation apps and videos online that can be a great help when learning this practice.
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