Take a few seconds to relax your gaze and 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.
How do you feel?
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, you can practice:
focusing your attention
accepting your thoughts, feelings, and the world around you
living life with deeper intentions
The most common form of mindfulness practice is paying attention to your breathing.
Perfection is not the goal of mindfulness — awareness is.
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.
Mindfulness And Attention
When wyou start practicing mindfulness, your capacity to pay attention to your inner world (thoughts, feelings, physical sensations) and to the world around you grows.
Over time, you might be able to:
Concentrate on tasks for longer
Notice when you're feeling strong emotions before you react to them
Notice your surroundings and the present moment more, instead of getting lost in your thoughts
Check out the Ted Talk Using Mindfulness to Deal with Everyday Pressures to see Dr. Regina Chow Trammel demonstrate how mindfulness can help you pay attention to your reactions in stressful situations.
Mindfulness And Acceptance
Because mindfulness is a practice of awareness, not judgment, you learn to accept your emotions instead of turning away when you feel uncomfortable.
Mindfulness makes it easier to see the "silver lining" when things don't go your way.
You have just had a breakup, and you're very upset. What would be the most mindful statement to tell yourself?
Mindfulness And Intentions
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.
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 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.
What effects could mindfulness have on your own life?
Now that you know what mindfulness is all about, try this short mindfulness exercise:
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!