Take a few seconds to relax your gaze and to take three deep, slow breaths. It might be helpful to follow the image below, breathing in as the shape grows larger and breathing out as it gets smaller.

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How do you feel?

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The awareness you just created by focusing on your breath is an example of mindfulness.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a relaxation technique. It's the practice of focusing our awareness on the present moment.

Through mindfulness, we practice:

  • focusing our attention

  • accepting our thoughts, feelings, and the world around us

  • living life with deeper intentions

The most common form of mindfulness practice is paying attention to our breathing.

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Why "Practice?"

It might be helpful to think of mindfulness as a “practice.”

This means there's no pressure to act or perform in a certain way, or to be "the best" at what we are doing.

We are able to accept whatever comes, however imperfect it may be.

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Perfection is not the goal of mindfulness; awareness is. 

Quiz

When practicing mindfulness, you should always strive for perfection.

Mindfulness And Attention

When we start practicing mindfulness, our capacity to pay attention to our inner world (thoughts, feelings, physical sensations) and to the world around us grows.

Over time, we might be able to:

  • Concentrate on tasks for longer

  • Notice when we are feeling strong emotions before we react to them

  • Notice our surroundings and the present moment more, instead of getting lost in our thoughts

This clip shows how mindfulness can help us pay attention to our reactions in stressful situations.

Mindfulness And Acceptance

Because mindfulness is a practice of awareness, not judgment, we learn to accept our emotions instead of turning away when we feel uncomfortable.

Mindfulness makes it easier to see the "silver lining" when things don't go our way.

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Quiz

You have just had a family emergency, and you are very upset. What would be the most mindful statement to tell yourself?

Mindfulness And Intentions

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An intention is a purposeful aim to act in a certain way.

When we are mindful of our feelings and experiences, it's easier to set intentions for ourselves rather than to react to our feelings without reflecting on them first.

Meet Alex

Alex has a stressful work week coming up. Before Alex was introduced to mindfulness, they would always get anxious the weekend before a stressful work week. This caused them to overeat and to lash out at family and friends.

Now that Alex has practiced being more mindful, they notice that they tend to get more anxious before a stressful work week. Now Alex sets an intention to eat well, get extra sleep, and do some stress-relieving activities before and during the work week.

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Take Action

What effects could mindfulness have on your own life?

Now that you know what mindfulness is all about, try this 2-minute mindfulness exercise from the Value Factory:

How did it make you feel?

Challenge yourself to practice mindfulness for at least 2 minutes every day. Some people strive for up to 20 to 45 minutes each day , but even a couple of minutes will make a difference!

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This Byte has been authored by

SS

Silvan Spicer

higher education instructional designer