In honor of World Meditation Day on May 21st, let’s talk about Mindfulness today.
Mindfulness is a trendy word at the moment, with lots of conflicting definitions and perceptions going around. The reason for this is that mindfulness can be…whatever you want it to be, as long as you are increasing your awareness and being present in the current moment.
In fact, the Oxford Dictionary defines Mindfulness as“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. How you achieve that is up to you. It can be through meditation, but it doesn’t have to be.
However, for someone who has never practiced mindfulness before, the internet tutorials and meditation gurus can be a bit overwhelming and present meditation as something you have to commit a lot of time or effort to in order to reap the benefits.
If that’s what’s keeping you from exploring the practice, allow us to let you in on a little secret: you can practice mindfulness anywhere, even on your morning commute (if that’s even a thing for you anymore). The point is, you can practice mindfulness for as short a time or as long a time as you want, and at any point in your day. You don’t need to sit in full lotus and meditate for an hour.
To help you get started, here are three easy mindfulness techniques you can integrate into your everyday routine whenever you get a quiet moment:
Breath Awareness: Taking a walk? Waiting in line? 5-minute coffee break? These are all perfect times to practice breath awareness. To do so, simply focus on your breath and silently repeat the words “in” and “out” to match each inhale and exhale. If your mind wanders, simply shift your focus back to your breath. This technique is great to calm anxiety or simply clear your head for a couple minutes.
Body Scan: This technique is great for when you feel like your mind is a million miles away, and you’re having trouble focusing. To practice this technique, turn your attention to different areas of your body and notice every sensation you feel, and consciously relax any areas of tension. Start at the feet and progress all the way to your head. This will ground you and bring you back to the present moment. Best of all, it can be done right at your desk.
Gratitude: To practice this technique, simply combine the above two by bringing your attention to your breath, consciously releasing any tension you may be feeling. While you do this, call to mind 5-10 things you’re grateful for both in the present moment, and overall in your life. It can be as small as a nice breeze on a sunny day or a pet that you love, or as big as a loving family and successful career. The point of this technique is to brighten your mood and remind you of all that you have.