Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for cultivating happiness and well-being.
But what does it actually mean? In this post, I will answer that question and more. We'll explore what mindfulness is, why it's so important, and how you can use it to improve your life. I will also share a mindfulness meditation video.
If you're curious about the benefits of mindfulness and want to learn more about this ancient practice, then keep reading.
Table of Contents
What is Mindfulness?
The definition of mindfulness is a state of mental awareness and attention to the present moment without judgment. This concept is not new, but it has recently gained popularity. Mindfulness is the heart of Buddhist meditation . It can describe an overall approach to life that includes nonjudgmental observation with acceptance.
Mindfulness is not necessarily about reducing stress but rather fostering a sense of calm, clarity, and acceptance in our lives. When we're mindful, we notice how our bodies feel—what our breath feels like as it enters and leaves the body; what emotions arise when we think about certain things; whether there's tension somewhere in our muscles (and where).
Being mindful allows us to see these experiences clearly without reacting or judging them negatively or positively.
What Does Mindfulness Mean To You?
When you think of mindfulness, what comes to mind?
In this video, I asked my mentees about what mindfulness means to them and how they incorporate it into their lives.
So, how about you?
What Does Mindfulness Mean To You?
Why practice mindfulness?
Here are a few reasons why practicing mindfulness can be beneficial:
Mindfulness can improve your physical well-being.
Every time you get stressed out, it's like your body is sending out a call for help. That call is answered by cortisol, the stress hormone that sends a signal which triggers a cascade of reactions in our bodies, leading to a fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster, causes your blood pressure to rise, and gives you a burst of energy . But if you're constantly stressed, cortisol stays in your system longer than usual, which can eventually lead to weight gains and other health problems—like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Mindfulness helps you calm down and stop the cycle of stress-induced cortisol production by connecting you to the present moment. By learning how to relax, you can reduce the number of times your body experiences the stress response in a given day and reduce the number of times it releases cortisol into your bloodstream.
Mindfulness can help you to focus and stay focused .
Because mindfulness helps you focus on one thing at a time, it allows you to stay focused on the task. This means that when you practice mindfulness, you can do your work with less distractions and complete the work more efficiently.
By being mindful, you can become more aware of your surroundings .
When you're mindful, you're not just thinking about what's happening in front of you—you're experiencing it. This may greatly impact how you interact with others, feel about your day, and decide what you want to do next.
It will give you more appreciation for the small things in life (like walking down a street) and big things (like doing something fun with friends). You can look at the world differently by opening up this new insight and appreciation inside you.
Mindfulness can help you react to situations with greater calm and rationality.
It helps you realize that not everything in life goes as planned, and it is okay to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Is rain the day you are supposed to go hiking really the worst thing in the world? Will you remember and still be upset about the rain in 6 months or a year from now? Mindfulness can help you see a different perspective in the moment.
How to cultivate mindfulness?
So how do you begin to cultivate mindfulness?
It's important to remember that mindfulness is a process, not a destination. Mindfulness is a technique for gaining awareness of the present moment, which can help you respond to thoughts and feelings in ways that enhance your well-being.
An excellent way to think of this is like a skill. For example, if you want to learn to play tennis, you must practice to improve. In the same way, becoming more mindful takes time and effort. Anyone can learn the necessary skills with determination, patience, and persistence.
We all have different backgrounds, personalities, and experiences, so we approach our day-to-day lives differently. So, finding out what works for YOU will help make this journey easier (and more enjoyable).
How do you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life?
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Find out what works for you and practice it regularly. Below are only a few suggestions:
Practice Mindful Eating
Slow down when you eat, and pay attention to what you eat. Try not to multitask while eating and focus solely on the food in front of you. Put down your phone, turn off the TV and enjoy your meal!
Try Mindful Walking
Stop whatever you are doing and go for a walk outside for a few minutes. Instead of thinking about everything that needs doing at home. Instead take note of what is around you, notice colors, textures, smells and even sounds.
Make a list of things that you are grateful for and reflect on this regularly. This is a simple way to practice mindfulness. It allows you to focus on the positive aspects of your life rather than dwelling on negative thoughts.
Focus on your body
Take a moment to focus on your body and what it is doing. Pay attention to your breath as well as other sensations in your body such as hunger, thirst or fatigue.
Check-in with your emotions
Notice how you feel, then take a moment to consider what might be causing these feelings. This can help you to avoid getting overwhelmed by negative emotions and instead give yourself time to process them.
Pause Throughout the Day
Make time to pause and take a moment to check-in with yourself and your surroundings. These moments can be as simple as taking a deep breath or pausing for five minutes to meditate.
Practice active listening
Listen to what others have to say with an open mind, and try not to jump to conclusions or make assumptions. This can be a challenge when you’re feeling stressed, but it will help you understand other people better and improve communication in the long run.
When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, try to be compassionate with yourself, take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. This will help you reframe a “mistake” into an opportunity to grow and be better.
Social Media Detox
Limit your time on social media to a few times per day, and take breaks throughout your day and week. This will help you focus on what’s going on in real life and prevent you from getting sucked into the online world. Make sure you’re spending quality time with people in real life. This will help you feel more connected to the world around you.
Mindful Minute: One-minute Introduction
It's time for a Mindful Moment!
If you are new to mindfulness meditation, it may initially seem awkward or challenging. So I decided to create a video to help you get started in practicing mindfulness.
This video is an introduction to mindfulness and will only take a minute or two. Breathwork is a great way to dip your toes into a mindfulness practice.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, sit up nice and tall, and press play.
About the Author
Co-Author: Irish Doton
Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.
Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!