Mindfulness – Definition, Benefits, Techniques And How To Practice It

Mindfulness - Definition

The Mindfulness or Mindfulness is a word quite simple, suggests that this mind paying full attention to what is happening, what you’re doing, the space in which you are moving, that may seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we often deviate from the issue at hand.

Our mind flies, we lose contact with our body and we are absorbed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or worried about the future and that makes us anxious.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, to be aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.

What is mindfulness?

It means maintaining a momentary awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the environment around them, through a soft and enriching lens.

Mindfulness is our ability to be aware, right here, now. We all have this ability naturally, for example, look at a child playing and see how attentive they are, how curious, enthralled, fully engaged with the present moment.

Mindfulness is the psychological process of drawing attention to experiences that occur in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation.

Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed several mindfulness-based therapeutic applications to help people experiencing a variety of psychological conditions. The practice has been used to reduce symptoms of depression , stress , anxiety, and in the treatment of drug addiction .

Being with ourselves contrasts with the more common states of mind in which we are sometimes preoccupied with memories, fantasies, or planning. However, the ability to be present is innate to each of us and can be deliberately cultivated, along with our capacity for kindness. Although we are unaware of the stream of our thinking , it has a profound effect on how we live our lives, as well as our mental and emotional health.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

The potential benefits are huge and powerful. To a large extent, the benefits depend on the mind entering this process to begin with – some people, for example, may benefit the most from a greater connection to their body, while others derive the most benefit from learning how to deal with troublesome thoughts. .

Improves well-being

Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a fulfilled life, being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you fully participate in activities, and creates greater ability to cope with adverse events.

Improve memory and academic performance

In this study, students who performed exercises to increase attention had greater focus (or less mental wandering), better short-term memory, and better test performance.

Helps with weight loss and eating healthier foods

Mindful eating means paying attention to each bite and eating slowly while paying attention to all of your senses. Participants in mindfulness studies consumed fewer calories when hungrier than control groups.

Leads to better decision making

A couple of experiments associate mindfulness meditation or simply a natural tendency to be more aware of being less prone to sunk cost bias, our tendency to stick with lost causes, such as a bad relationship or a dead-end job, due to to time and difficulty.

Reduce stress and help cope with chronic health problems

A meta-analysis of 20 empirical reports found that mindfulness increased both mental and physical well-being in patients with chronic pain, cancer, heart disease, and more.

Sleep better.

Anyone who has suffered the lingering mental and physical effects of a bad night on a regular basis can appreciate this all-important benefit of mindfulness meditation: better sleep.

In fact, research with older adults diagnosed with sleep disorders found that the practice resulted in a significant short-term improvement in sleep quality by remedying sleep problems. The researchers noted that this improvement apparently translates into “reduced sleep-related daytime impairment that has implications for quality of life.”

Banish temporary negative feelings.

Sitting at a desk or computer all day is not good for your overall health and well-being. The recommended advice for getting up and moving is well-founded in research.

A study evaluating the behaviors based on the daily waking movement of college students found a less momentary negative effect of movement taking into account mindfulness and suggested that incorporating it into daily movement may lead to better health benefits in general.

Improve attention

The researchers found that brief meditation training (four days) can improve the ability to maintain attention. Other improvements from the brief training included working memory, executive functioning, visuospatial processing, reduced anxiety and fatigue, and increased attention.

Manage chronic pain.

Millions of people suffer from chronic pain, some after an accident that leaves them with a long-term debilitating medical condition, some as a result of post-traumatic stress syndrome , after a serious injury during combat deployment, others due to cancer diagnoses. .

Managing chronic pain in a healthier way is the focus of much current research. In fact, the search and clinical trials of alternatives to medication to help the patient cope with chronic pain continues to gain momentum, it has been found that stress reduction based on mindfulness, produces significant improvements in pain, anxiety, well-being, and the ability to participate in daily activities.

mindfulness techniques

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any technique is to achieve a state of focused and alert relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them, this allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All techniques are a form of meditation.

Meditation

Sit quietly and focus on your natural breath or on a word or “mantra” that you silently repeat, allow the thoughts to come and go without judgment, and refocus on the breath or mantra.

  1. Sit in a straight-backed or cross-legged chair on the floor.
  2. Focus on one aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing through your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Once you have reduced your concentration in this way, begin to broaden your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
  4. Embrace and consider every thought or feeling without judging it good or bad, if your mind starts racing, refocus on your breathing. Then expand your consciousness again.
  5. Learn to stay in the present.

A less formal approach to mindfulness can also help you stay in the present and participate fully in your life. You can choose any task or time to practice mindfully informally, whether it’s eating, bathing, walking, touching a partner, or playing with a child or grandchild.

Body sensations

Observe subtle body sensations, such as itching or tingling without judgment, and let them pass. Observe each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Sensorial

Observe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judging and letting go.

Emotions

Allowing emotions to be present without judgment, practice a stable and relaxed name for emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of emotions without judgment and let them go.

Ways to practice mindfulness

Since it is a state of mind, it can be put into practice in different ways.

One type of mindfulness practice is called concentration meditation , where you choose one thing to focus your attention for a certain period of time, these build the ability to notice when our attention has wandered and to observe our experience without judgment.

They are often helpful in managing stress and usually involve focusing on a simple physical sensation, such as your breathing, it is recommended that people interested in mindfulness begin practicing concentration meditations as a way to develop basic skills. necessary.

A second form of mindfulness exercise is called mindfulness meditation , in these exercises, you are asking yourself to simply observe the comings and goings of your experiences, this could be noticing the bodily sensations as they arise and then pass, the same can be do for the thoughts, feelings or even any combination of experiences you have.

What makes this an exercise in mindfulness rather than daydreaming is that this is all being done with a mindset where you are watching your experiences almost as if they were on television, where you are aware of what is going on but you are separate from the content of your thoughts. When we daydream, we lose the mindset of being an observer and instead, we are swept away and become a character in the show.

Mindfulness can be realized by setting aside time to listen to the exercises and attend a group meditation , these are sometimes called formal practice. Since mindfulness is a state of mind, it can also be practiced during any other activity, as long as we are present, aware and non-judgmental, this is called informal practice and examples include walking, eating or listening carefully.

How to practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a natural quality that we all have, it is available to us at all times if we take the time to appreciate it. When we practice it, we have the art of creating a space for ourselves: space to think, to breathe, space between us and our reactions.

Some things to consider before practicing it:

You don’t need to buy anything. You can practice anywhere, there is no need to go out and buy a special cushion or bench, all you need to do is take a little time and space to access your mindfulness skills every day.

Your mind will wander. As you practice paying attention to what is going on in your body and mind in the present moment, you will see many thoughts arise. Your mind might drift to something that happened yesterday, meander through your to-do list – your mind will try to be anywhere other than where it is. Mind wandering is not something to fear, it is part of human nature and provides the magic moment for the essential piece of practice.

It’s about returning your attention over and over to the present moment. It seems that our minds are wired to let ourselves be carried away by thought, that is why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the breath. We use the sensation of the breath as an anchor to the present moment and each time we return to it, we reinforce our ability to do it again.

How to practice it?

Take a sit. Find a place to sit that seems calm and quiet.

Set a time limit. If you are just starting out, it may help to choose a short time frame, such as 5 or 10 minutes.

Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the ground, you can sit cross-legged, in the lotus position, you can kneel, everything is fine. Just make sure you’re stable and in a position that you can stay in for a while.

Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as you exit and enter.

Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you come to realize this, in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes, just pay attention to your breath again.

Be kind to your wandering mind. Do not judge yourself or become obsessed with the content of the thoughts in which you find yourself lost. Just come back.

Why practice it?

Being mindful helps you notice when you are on autopilot, allowing you to change what you are doing in the moment, rather than regret it later.

Let’s say you find yourself eating a bag of potato chips in front of the TV, your patron for the night. Being mindful can help you break free of the trance and take a moment to make a different decision, you could trade them for carrots, or decide to skip TV and take a walk around the block.

Mindfulness can keep you in touch with your goals and hopes, focusing on the moment prevents you from reacting quickly and doing what you normally do without thinking about it, like feeling stressed and grabbing a giant-sized chocolate bar.

Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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