Mindfulness Introduction: 5 Minutes to Mindful
What is Mindfulness?
The term ‘mindfulness’ has been popping up more often recently, but what does it really mean? Many people think that being mindful means ‘being in the moment’, and they’re not wrong. However, there is a bit more to it than just being in the moment.
Mindfulness, defined, is a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment. It is a state of being, not a character trait, and there are many health benefits associated with the practice.
Mindfulness vs Meditation
A common mistake is to assume that mindfulness and meditation are the same thing, but one is simply a means to the other.
Meditation is the most widely known mindfulness technique, but the two are not synonymous. Rather, there are a wide variety of things you can practice in your journey to becoming more mindful.
A more concentrated version of meditation, known as mindfulness meditation, allows you to cultivate mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
What are the benefits?
For busy parents, even setting aside five minutes a day to practice becoming more mindful can be a task. Nevertheless, the proven benefits of mindfulness should convince you that it’s worth a try. By dedicating time to reflection, guided breathing, and meditation, you can begin to see the positive changes that occur in your life as a result of becoming more mindful.
Related: Meditating strengthens interpersonal adeptness
It’s a great stress reduction technique
The state of mindfulness emphasizes awareness of the present moment, which means your mind will not be focusing on all the things in your life that weigh you down. This allows your mind to take a break, unwind, and de-stress. Even science is on our side! Mindfulness has been linked to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and significantly lower levels of anxiety.
It improves your attention span
How many times a day do you find yourself becoming distracted and unable to finish the task you’re working on? If you’re anything like me, probably more often than you would like to admit. Practicing mindfulness encourages you to maintain a constant state of awareness, which limits distractions from messing with your ability to focus.
Research indicates that regularly practicing mindfulness enhances your attention span, something we all would probably like to improve. You’ll be less tempted to pick up your phone and scroll through your social networks, and more tempted to get your work out of the way. With increased focus comes greater productivity, which means you can get your chores and daily responsibilities out of the way sooner and have more time to do the things you enjoy.
It makes you happier
As stated before, mindfulness emphasizes awareness. As you practice becoming more aware, it forces you to take a mental inventory of your emotions. With time, you will begin to take note of more negative emotions and trace them back to their roots. As you continue further with your mindfulness journey, you will be able to build up a type of mental shield that prevents these negative emotions from influencing your mood, because you will be able to trace their origin and fix the problem without ruining your day.
This doesn’t necessarily take a long time, either—research shows that mindfulness can have a significant improvement on your mood in as little as 8 weeks.
A Journey Inside Your Mind
While group activities such as yoga classes could be helpful on your journey, mindfulness is really about the solo journey. Mindfulness encourages you to reflect inwardly, to do a mental check up on yourself and take note of how you’re feeling. It is something you can practice at home, during your lunch break at the office, or anywhere where you feel comfortable.
The practice allows you to learn more about yourself because of the effort you dedicate to personal reflection. This is a unique and beneficial opportunity, as emotional and mental wellness is sadly overlooked by busy adults.
Beginning Your Mindfulness Journey
If you are just starting out on your mindfulness journey, try and commit to a goal you can easily achieve. Try practicing mindfulness for 2-5 minutes a day, and eventually try to increase that time.
The more you put into the practice, the more you will gain, so it is important to set goals for yourself that allow you to track your progress. Even if you don’t feel like you can integrate the practice into your daily routine, mindfulness and mindfulness meditation are still effective ways to slow down and collect your thoughts during a stressful moment. If you feel your emotions building up, try a mindfulness meditation technique—a short series of guided breathing will slow down your heart rate and level out your emotions.
Mindfulness is gaining popularity for many reasons, most of which are backed by scientific research. Give it a try today and see how you feel. After all, it’s only five minutes.
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