Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, fully aware of your own thoughts, feelings and senses and fully accepting of them in a non-judgmental way.
The goal is to become aware of thoughts and feelings rather than get lost in them, to observe them without judgment or self-criticism.
Why is mindfulness a good skill to have?
- It improves your ability to manage emotions
- Reduces overthinking
- Improves your ability to cope with stress and stressful situations
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves memory and focus
Mindfulness is difficult to achieve without practice. Here are two ways you can practice mindfulness.
Five senses – the goal is to use your senses to bring yourself fully into the present moment.
- Find five things you can see – look around and find details you’ve not noticed before such as light reflecting on a surface or a pattern.
- Find four things you can feel – pick up a knick knack and feel it’s texture, notice the pressure of your feet on the floor.
- Find three things you can hear – tune in to the background noises you weren’t listening to fully such as bird song or a car moving.
- Find two things you can smell – maybe smell a cup of coffee or a flower or cut grass in the garden.
- Find one thing you can taste – sip a glass of cold water or eat a snack and notice how it feels in your mouth.
Body scan – the goal isn’t to change or relax your body, but to become aware of your body and physical sensations.
Start with your toes and pay attention to how they feel. Then move to your feet, then slowly move up your body small sections at a time.
Spend 15 seconds or more on each body part and when you reach your head, move back down your body until you reach your toes again.
Notice any aches, the warmth or cold, the feel of clothes or the floor or seat. Take your time, move slowly.
On your first attempt aim for around 15 seconds on each body part and as you practice see if you can slow the body scan down and increase the time you’re able to focus.
There are some great apps available that help with mindfulness practice including Headspace and Calm.