Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Being mindful is keeping a constant awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and the immediate environment through a kind, nurturing lens.
Acceptance is another component of mindfulness, which means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without passing judgment on them. For example, we refrain from thinking that there is a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel at any given time. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts focus on the present moment rather than the past or the future.
Both in the public press and the literature on psychotherapy, mindfulness has had a huge increase in popularity in the last ten years. From a completely obscure Buddhist idea that was developed around 2,600 years ago to a commonplace psychotherapy concept today, the practice has evolved. The term “mindfulness” derives from the Pali words sati and vipassana, which indicate insight gained through meditation. In the Indian Buddhist tradition, sati denotes awareness, attentiveness, or alertness.
The proponents of mindfulness would have us believe that almost all patients and therapists might gain from practicing mindfulness. Self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, more flexibility, equanimity, better focus and mental clarity, emotional intelligence, and the capacity to relate to oneself and others with kindness, acceptance, and compassion are some of its theorized advantages.
- Reduced rumination:
Rumination is decreased by mindfulness, according to numerous research. For instance, 20 inexperienced meditators were requested to take part in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat by Chambers et al. (2008) in one study. In comparison to the control group, the meditation group reported considerably higher levels of self-reported mindfulness and lower levels of negative affect following the retreat. Additionally, they had fewer rumination thoughts and depressive symptoms. Additionally, compared to the control group, the meditators showed much more working memory capacity and were better able to maintain attention throughout a performance task.
- Stress reduction:
Numerous research has shown that mindfulness training lowers stress. A meta-analysis of 39 research investigating the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction was carried out by Hoffman et al. in 2010. According to the study’s findings, mindfulness-based therapy may be helpful in modifying the cognitive and affective processes that underlie a variety of clinical disorders.
These results are in line with research showing that mindfulness meditation boosts good feelings while lowering anxiety and bad feelings. In one study, participants were randomly assigned to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group, and their results were compared to controls in terms of self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and psychopathology as well as in terms of neural reactivity, as measured by fMRI after watching depressing movies.
- Boosts to working memory:
According to a study, mindfulness also seems to help with working memory. For instance, a 2010 study by Jha et al. revealed the advantages of mindfulness meditation among a military group that underwent eight-week mindfulness training, a military group that didn’t meditate, and a group of nonmeditating civilians. Before deployment, both military units were going through a very hard time. Working memory capacity was shown to have deteriorated over time in the nonmeditating military group, but to have remained consistent in the nonmeditating civilian group. However, with regular meditation practice among the military group, working memory capacity grew. Additionally, self-reported happy effects and self-reported negative affect were inversely and directly correlated with meditation practice.
Another study looked at how participants’ capacity to concentrate and block out distractions was impacted by mindfulness meditation. The study’s authors contrasted a group of seasoned practitioners of mindfulness meditation with a control group that had never meditated before. They discovered that the meditation group performed noticeably better on all attentional tests and reported higher levels of awareness. Cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning were directly connected with mindfulness meditation use and self-reported mindfulness.
- Less emotional reactivity:
The idea that mindfulness meditation lessens emotional reactivity is also supported by research. Researchers found that mindfulness meditation practice helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting pictures and enabled them to focus better on a cognitive task as compared to people who saw the pictures but did not meditate. Participants in the study ranged in experience from one month to 29 years.
- More cognitive flexibility:
Another body of research contends that mindfulness meditation may increase people’s cognitive flexibility in addition to reducing their reactivity. The ability of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways built by earlier learning and permits present-moment input to be processed in a novel way, is thought to emerge in persons who practice mindfulness meditation, according to one study. The brain area linked to more adaptable reactions to stressful or unfavorable situations is also activated during meditation.
- Relationship satisfaction:
According to several studies, a person’s capacity for mindfulness can assist predict marital pleasure, as well as their capacity for coping with relationship stress and their capacity for effectively expressing their feelings to a partner. According to empirical data, mindfulness guards against the emotionally draining consequences of interpersonal conflict and is positively correlated with one’s capacity for self-expression in a variety of social contexts.
- Other benefits:
It has been demonstrated that mindfulness improves self-awareness, morality, intuition, and fear regulation—all mental processes connected to the middle prefrontal lobe of the brain. Additionally, there is evidence to support the many health advantages of mindfulness meditation, such as improved immunological function.
TECHNIQUES FOR MINDFULNESS
These exercises are meant to transform everyday experiences into mindful moments.
- Gratitude list
Making a gratitude list can help you focus on the things you have to be thankful for, which can enhance wellbeing and encourage happiness.
To maintain consistency, try adding 3-5 items to your list each day and scheduling it into your daily plan. You can make a gratitude list in the morning to start the day off well or make a list of a few things you’re thankful for as you’re getting ready for bed.
- Walking meditation
The practice of meditation while walking, usually in a straight line or circle, is precisely what it sounds like. You can do it practically anyplace, whether you’re strolling around the neighborhood, going to the park with your kids, or walking to work.
You probably guessed that single-tasking is the opposite of multitasking (and you were right!). All you have to do is commit yourself entirely to the task at hand.
Concentrate on one job at a time when using a computer. Close all the browser tabs that aren’t related to the project you’re working on, despite how much you might not want to. This could even promote laser focus and help clear the mind.
Focus on your breathing, how your body feels in your seat or while you’re standing, how your feet feel on the ground, how the air feels on your skin, the shape and posture of your body, and how your body feels in the air.
- Mindful gardening
Growing a garden is a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and practice mindfulness at the same time. Set yourself up with a straightforward chore, such as watering some flowers or planting some seeds.
Feel the texture of the dirt with your hand as you proceed. Is it grippy or smooth? Is it dry or humid? Is it hot or cold? As if you were a child playing, give yourself permission to enjoy the process.
- Music Appreciation
Teenagers’ introduction to the practice of mindfulness can be facilitated by music.
Teenagers only require their preferred music and a quiet area to practice in. The music should be something they haven’t heard all that often. Also useful are headphones.
Allow them to select any music of a suitable length. (They might want to wait until later to play the 15-minute guitar solo.)
They can then just settle in and start listening to the music. They can inquire: As I listen, how does it feel in my body?
What new sounds may I hear that I may not have previously heard?
How does the beat of the music affect the way I breathe?
- Group-based mindful dance
Teens who appreciate dancing and movement might enjoy going to an Ecstatic Dance program.
People of all ages, including families, children, and teenagers, can deliberately move together in a safe environment with Ecstatic Dance. Sessions are drug-free and silent, making them a fantastic setting for moving around securely and without the interruptions that come with a standard public dance floor. In addition to online events, they also host global events. To discover the nearby event, just enter “ecstatic dancing” into the search bar for your area.
- Mindful movement
Teenagers may release pent-up energy and express themselves via movement, which is a terrific approach to getting in their bodies and letting go. It’s another musical method of incorporating mindfulness, so teens may find it particularly appealing.
Moving your body to the beat of the music without being mindful of neither your appearance nor your dancing is known as mindful movement. It’s just improvisational music interpretation. This can never be done incorrectly. It merely conveys the mood of the song.
Another entertaining approach to incorporate movement is through shaking, which doesn’t even need music.
Exercise for releasing tension and trauma, or TRE, is another name for this. Discover all the advantages, directions, and a step-by-step video here.
In addition to helping to develop mental agility, puzzles also promote mindfulness. They are enjoyable and gratifying but also require concentration, attention to detail, and presence of mind.
They consist of:
- jigsaw puzzles
- word finds
- spot the differences
Teens and apps go together if stereotypes are to be believed. Fortunately, there are many teen-targeted applications available that instruct mindfulness and meditation in a sympathetic manner.
Teens can use the app Aura to receive daily reminders to meditate for three minutes. Along with Google calendar integration, it also has a gratitude journal, a goals list, a natural sounds meditation timer, and an intelligent meditation personalization.
Teens can monitor their physical, mental, and emotional well-being in Stop, Breathe, and Think, which also offers helpful meditation suggestions. The software was created with the understanding that kids struggle to go directly from activities to meditation. They are able to reset and enter a more conscious state thanks to the intermediate check-in process.
11. Body scanning
Simple, soothing body scan meditation is a great method to unwind and quiet the body and mind. It entails mindfully scanning your body with awareness for unpleasant sensations like pain or stress.
To practice, all you need to do is lie down, unwind, and pay attention to your feelings. for complete guidelines, advantages, and advice.
A somatic experiencing approach called tracking can make you feel rooted and present in the environment you’re in. This is accomplished by scanning the area and mindfully observing the objects there.
13. Coloring and doodling
These days, adult coloring books are widely available on store shelves, making it simple to choose one and start coloring. Even Healthline’s own mindful mandala is available for use.
Another calming artistic pastime is doodling, which is a little more free-form than coloring within the lines. A well-liked choice is the Zentangle Method.
Without any prior creative expertise, Zentangle is a fun, simple to use, and accessible way to create lovely patterns while lowering feelings of tension and anxiety and fostering a sense of serenity. The patterns’ creation process has a calming impact on the mind, and because they are simple to access, anyone can do them whenever they want to create a more tranquil, effective state of mind.
You can connect with your body and get out of your thoughts by crafting. Additionally, it enables you to use your hands, connect with your inner kid, and interact with various shapes, colors, and textures.
5-minute mindfulness activities
Being aware and having a busy schedule doesn’t have to be incompatible. No matter how full your calendar is, you can fit mindfulness into your life.
Simple, plain breathing is a form of meditation that employs the breath to calm the mind.
- Choose a comfortable position to sit or lie down.
- Keep an eye on your breath as you inhale.
- Keep an eye on your breath as you exhale.
When your thoughts stray, gently nudge them back to your breathing.
I’m done now! Focus on feeling your abdomen and chest expanding and contracting, the warmth of your breath in your neck and nose, and the feel of your body against the seat or the floor to intensify the practice.
It’s best to constantly practice at the same time every day. Start by 3-5 mins a day and then increase the time.
- Deep seeing exercise
A little practice called “deep seeing” trains your eyes to pay closer attention to your surroundings. Just pick an item that appeals to you, that’s all. A vibrant scarf, an orange from the fruit bowl, or a new flower are all acceptable examples.
Then, interact closely with the thing using your sense of sight. Look at the folds, hues, textures, dimensions, and shapes. Gently scrutinize the item until you start to pick up on details you previously missed. Set a timer for 3 to 5 minutes so you may focus entirely on the task at hand without checking the time.
- Deep listening exercise
In contrast to deep seeing, deep listening involves using your sense of hearing. Simply sitting and listening is all that is required. Pay attention to small sounds, such as your breath. Then, pay attention to sounds that are a little further away, such as a fan’s hum or a voice in the adjacent room. Next, listen for additional sounds, such as those made by cars or airplanes.
Spend 3 to 5 minutes doing this.
Many people can benefit from mindfulness. It is a relatively simple technique that has profound effects on the brain and can improve a person’s quality of life, self-confidence, and peace of mind. Think about trying the mentioned activities if you haven’t already. The exercises gradually help you become more aware of your bodies, your thoughts, and yourself.
Do you want to learn about mindfulness meditations? Check our youtube playlist of Guided Mindfulness Meditations
Try these 7 mindfulness exercises from DBT! :