Mindfulness comes from Buddhist meditation and means keeping a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and environment through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Sound complicated? It isn’t.
During the holiday season, when life gets really hectic, take a moment to sit quietly and center yourself.
Practicing mindfulness also means practicing acceptance, says the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them; in these moments, there is no right or wrong way to feel. During mindfulness, your thoughts should tune in to the present moment rather than turning to past events or imagining the future.
It Does A Body Good
According to the center, practicing mindfulness can improve sleep and feelings of depression, help you cope with stress, help the mind focus and increase compassion. It may even help you eat less and improve your immune system.
Put it into Practice
The Greater Good Science Center recommends a few ways to practice mindfulness. During these exercises, pay attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling a strong emotion. Also, pay attention to all your senses in the moment. Recognize that your thoughts and emotions to not define you.
- Mindful breathing: Take slow, even breaths in and out. Notice the physical sensations of the breath as it flows in and out.
- Body scan: Pay attention to each part of your body in turn, from head to toe.
- Walking meditation: Focus the movement of your feet as you take a path 10 paces long, back and forth. Feel your feet touching and leaving the ground.
- Loving-kindness meditation: Extend compassion toward people, starting with yourself, then someone close to you, an acquaintance, and so on, until you get to all beings.
Don’t worry if total serenity eludes you during your first few attempts. Like most things, mindfulness takes practice. And, if these tactics simply don’t seem to be working for you, there are other methods for bringing mindfulness into your life, including Ayurveda, eating with awareness and naturopathy, exercise and just generally dealing with life one moment at a time.