Mindfulness is a practice that can help you in all aspects of your daily life. Practiced since ancient times, modern science is now recognizing its importance in building psychological health. Mindfulness is the intentional focus of your attention on your thoughts and feelings, observing the moment with a non-judgmental attitude. It is healthy to learn to clear our minds of the doubts and distractions that can get in the way of harnessing our own ability to be healthy and happy.
Here is a list of five steps to try when beginning a mindfulness practice:
- Start by closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Pay attention to the way you breathe for a couple of minutes. First try breathing deeply, then slow down and relax into a comfortable, even pattern. You may notice your mind becomes calmer with a little practice and you are able to bring awareness to the moment.
- Treat yourself to a deep, therapeutic massage occasionally. If you have never had a massage, you are in for a real experience! A highly trained therapist will help you deeply relax. This allows you to be more aware of the present moment and all the sensations in your body.
- Practice becoming aware of your thoughts at specific moments during your daily routine. For example, when you walk through the door when you get to work, are your thoughts judgmental, comparative or negative? You have control over the way you choose to perceive your world and how you act. Thoughts lead to actions and then to habits. Make a real effort to think positive thoughts.
- When involved in a task, try to concentrate on what you are doing. Although we all multi-task at times, it can be a real challenge to just do one thing and tune out or ignore the other distractions in our life. By not letting your mind wander from one task to another, you learn to center your attention on the moment. Tackle each task one at a time, do what you can, and if you cannot do something right now, it is all right; let it go and come back to it later.
- Do not constantly worry about things that are outside of your control. Instead, put your energy towards other productive projects that are within your control. It does no good to worry about events that may never happen, and if something does happen, you will be able to deal with it in the moment. While being worried about something important is normal, you also need to learn to move with the ebb and flow of your days, allowing the unplanned and spontaneous to occur.
Start appreciating life for what it is and what you have, instead of focusing on what you do not have or the changes you want to make. You may want to join a mindful meditation group to learn more about mindfulness. In the meantime, consider trying one or all of these steps as a healthy start.