Ever since Time Magazine put mindfulness on its cover in 2016, it has burst into the public’s consciousness as a practice associated with health and wellbeing. Although it seems like a recent development, mindfulness is in fact an ancient practice, one that traverses many of the world’s major religions and goes back thousands of years.
In the United States, the practice of mindfulness has been studied by researchers as a secular practice to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve mood. To reap the benefits of mindfulness you don’t have to be a part of any religion.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment without judgement. Let’s break that down into its critical parts.
1) Being Aware – this is the active process of turning your attention to focus on something.
2) Present Moment – this is what is happening right here, right now, (not the future or the past).
3) Without Judgement – this is the ability to just notice something without putting a good/bad label on it.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but several common ones include paying attention to yourself in some way.
The breath – One of the simplest ways to steal a moment of mindfulness is to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your breath. By focusing on how your breath feel in your body you can bring yourself into the present moment.
The body scan – In a body scan the attention is focused on one part of the body at a time and progresses through your whole body.
The 5 senses – Another way to practice mindfulness is to stop and notice what you are seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, and smelling. Don’t forget to reserve judgement. Try just allowing your senses to transmit their information to you without trying to name, categorize, or describe the sensation.
It may seem too simple to believe, but mindfulness is nothing more than being aware of the present moment without judgement. Even a short practice of a few seconds counts. Try taking a deep breath when you start, as a way to signal to your body that you’re taking a mindfulness break.