Mindfulness is characterized by careful observation and acceptance of present thoughts and feelings, rather than judging thoughts and feelings, disputing past experiences, or anticipating the future. Quite simply, being mindful means being fully present. It sounds effortless, but in our busy, stressful daily lives, it can be very difficult to practice. When we have a lot on our plate, we tend to run on autopilot—never fully investing in the present because we are considering/anticipating what we have to get done next. However, if we are able to practice being mindful and present, we can strengthen our focus, reduce stress, better connect with those around us, and even better understand our mental/physical strife.
I know what you’re thinking, “Sign me up! Where do I start!?” Here’s how you can begin to practice mindfulness in your life:
1. Be sure to set aside time dedicated to meditating on your thoughts and honing in on your mindfulness skills. A great time to do this is right when you wake up! And remember, it doesn’t need to be a long time, anywhere from 3-20 minutes is about standard.
2. Observe your every thought, and let your mind wander. Notice your judgements and let them go. It’s okay to have wandering thoughts, that’s part of the process.
3. Gently bring yourself back to focus after acknowledging your thoughts/feelings. Remember mindfulness is all about focusing on the present, so be sure to return to the present moment.
4. Observe, observe, observe! Soak up the present moment and all its details. Notice every sensation you might be experiencing.
Sounds easy enough, right? However, once you begin to exercise mindfulness, you'll find it is simpler in theory than in practice. With busy brains, it can be difficult to stay focused on the present. Don’t let that discourage you. Your mindfulness skills will get stronger with practice and time. The best part is that you can implement mindfulness anywhere, whether that be in a quiet place each morning, or in line at the grocery store. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
If you find it hard to practice mindfulness on your own, there are other tools that can help you. Firstly, meditation. Meditation may help you create a space/time that allows you to focus on being mindful more easily. Linked below are a few resources that can lead you through a simple meditation:
Back to Basics Guided Meditation
Meditation for Beginners
A Simple Meditation
Additionally, there are many easily accessible apps designed to help improve mindfulness and mental health. Check these out on the App Store or Google Play Store:
The Mindfulness App
It can be hard to focus on the present with such busy lives and bountiful plans for our futures. And it can be easy to fall victim to stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions. If you find you are overwhelmed or just simply would like someone to talk to, reach out to us at HopeLine via our text or phone line at 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525.