Through the busyness of our lives and the fast pace of our society true mindfulness is a challenge to achieve. Few of us are taught how to be mindful and consequently what it means to be mindful is often misunderstood. To truly utilize the benefits of mindfulness it is important to be mindful consistently throughout the day. Imagine you set a goal to eat healthier and lose weight but only ate healthy foods for 30 minutes a day and the rest of your day you consumed junk food. The likelihood of reaching your goal would be slim. The same goes for mindfulness.
Mindfulness is full engagement and awareness of what you are doing; being aware of what your thoughts are saying, what you are feeling, what is happening around you and how you are reacting/behaving in any given situation.
Mindfulness, put simply, is awareness. Consistent, constant and intentional awareness.
Another helpful way to understand mindfulness is to think of it as paying attention. Paying attention to your body, your thoughts, your feelings, your surroundings, etc.
As you can imagine there are many advantages to increasing mindfulness and paying more attention.
- Being more engaged and connected to people and your surroundings
- Making your relationships stronger
- Gaining more control over your thoughts and emotions
- Responding thoughtfully and intentionally rather than reacting
- Communicating more effectively
- Being more focused
Mindfulness gives you the opportunity to have more control over yourself and subsequently how you view and interact with the world around you. When you pay closer attention to what is happening within and around you, you have more opportunities to intentionally make healthier decisions.
How to improve your mindfulness
There are many techniques available to improve mindfulness. When it comes to creating new habits, I believe that simpler is better. Work smart not hard, right?! Here are 3 simple ways to become more mindful
Take time to pause and pay attention to what is happening in your body
Your body is a great way to determine what your mind is doing, and it is important to listen to what it is telling you. What are you feeling and where? Are your shoulders tight? Heart racing? Do you feel jittery? Do you feel like you’re moving a mile a minute? All these things can tell you more about what you are thinking and what you are feeling so it is important to pay attention!
This is an oldie, but a goody and it works! When you find your mind or your body stressed, tight or overwhelmed, PAUSE. Close your eyes. Take 3 deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 6 and out through your mouth for a count of 8. Try it now, what do you notice? It takes less than a minute and can make a huge difference in body and mind!
Incorporate Silence into your daily life
Our world is noisy. TV, radio, social media, people, phone calls, text messages, emails all add to the ‘noise’ in our lives. It is important to take a break from the noise, daily. Silence can be a peaceful drive with no radio or music playing, it can be in the morning before you start your day or a few moments when you get home after a hectic day. To be more mindful it is necessary to silence the noise so you can pay attention to your body and your mind.
Breathe. Pay attention. Slow down.
Efforts to improve your mindfulness with help improve your mental health and give you a stronger sense of control over your life.