Life Balance

The Power of Mindfulness: How To Get Started

“Mindfulness helps us to live in harmony with our thoughts, words, and actions.” – Amit Ray

With everything we encounter being digital or giving instant gratification, we forget about how amazing life can be if we slow down. It’s funny how our day or our week or even life can change just by slowing down and being mindful. Mindfulness can be used to alleviate a lot of things from stress to depression. In this blog post, we’ll explore the power of mindfulness and practical techniques to get started.

Understanding Mindfulness

Before jumping into how and what to do to get started, I wanted to give you an overview of what mindfulness is and its benefits. I know this might seem boring to you but I have to incorporate a little bit of research based knowledge in order to help you best. Cause let’s be honest, if your spouse walked up to you and said “close your eyes”, what’s your first reaction? Yes, lol, “why”. So here it is. Here’s the why.

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is to practice being present, fully present in the moment. It’s about being outside and feeling the air or sun on your skin, tasting every ingredient in your meal, noticing how your child twirls her hair when she is tired.

Mindfulness is not taking Tylenol for all your aches and pains and noticing what causes these pains and where that pain is actually coming from. It’s about noticing how and when your mood changes during the day, week or month.

The practice of mindfulness was adopted from religious practices though used by non-religious alike. Mindfulness has its roots in Eastern philosophies, particularly in Buddhist traditions such as Zen and Vipassana. 

It mirrors ancient practices of meditation and self-awareness that have been used for thousands of years in cultures like India and Tibet. In these philosophies, mindfulness is seen as a path to understanding the nature of the mind and achieving a state of inner peace and enlightenment. It involves creating a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations.

Over time, mindfulness has been adapted and integrated into Western psychology and medicine as a valuable tool for reducing stress, enhancing well-being, and promoting mental clarity. 

Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that regular mindfulness meditation can lead to a great reduction in perceived stress, as well as improvements in your overall mood and emotional regulation.

It also enhances brain functions like attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. Mindfulness-based interventions have also been effective in managing chronic pain, with research backing the idea that it can lead to huge reductions in pain perception and an improved pain-related quality of life. 

In terms of your physical health, mindfulness has been linked to lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and better sleep quality. 

One notable study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that participants that underwent an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program showed significant reductions in blood pressure and a heightened immune response compared to a control group. 

Mindfulness can also promote healthier eating habits, helping with weight management, as it encourages greater awareness of your hunger cues and emotional eating triggers.

Mindfulness can positively impact relationships, with improved communication and empathy in your marriage. 

Preparing Your Mind for Mindfulness

Now to the good stuff. If you skipped to this part, I understand. But, I needed you to know why you should do what I am suggesting. This is why I’m starting with preparing your mind. Having the right mindset and setting realistic expectations before you start is the key to success. 

mindfulness

It’s important to have an open mind. Having an open mind is to not judge or not have any perceived notion. This will allow you to accept your thoughts and feelings whether good or bad. 

Have a purpose. Know why you are doing this. Is it to create more peace, is it to slow down your thinking, or is it to try and be a nicer person? 

Try and have the right attitude going into this. Take any negative feelings or doubtful thoughts about mindfulness and throw it away. Start new with an open mind and you will be able to start practicing mindfulness.

One misconception about mindfulness is that you have to clear your mind completely. Being in a blank space like some of those movies where you’re in a white room full of nothing is not what mindfulness is.

You will continue to have thoughts that come and go during mindfulness, you will get distracted by your surroundings. And let’s be honest, you will probably be most distracted by your own thoughts. It’s okay. And it will happen but less and less with more practice.

It’s all about training your brain to concentrate on the now and present.

Starting Your Mindfulness Practice

 Choose a Suitable Environment

Although you may be bound to have some noise or distractions. The less, the better. So find a quiet spot in your home, car, or park. This place should be free from immediate distractions or interruptions. It should bring you joy and calm even before closing your eyes.

If you can create a spot to practice, create a calming space. Use some sensory items like a soft blanket, soft scents, calming music, or even a fidget toy. This is ideal for the times when you get distracted. It can help you get back and focus by concentrating on one of those senses.

Select a Time for Practice

It’s best to practice mindfulness consistently. So practicing at the same time and the same spot will help you focus faster. Try to schedule a time to practice until it becomes a habit. I find that early in the morning or bedtime are the quietest times for me as a mom. But lunch breaks or scheduled quiet times in the bathroom are also great times.

It is more beneficial to practice everyday than to practice when you get a chance. Although practicing mindfulness at all will have its benefits even if it’s just for that moment. But the less interruptions, the better.

Begin with Short Sessions

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be an hour long. It’s best to start with short sessions and increase as you get better. Trying to focus for 30 minutes even, might be a struggle for beginners.

I would suggest starting with 5-10 minutes a day. A sample of a 5 minute exercise would be to close your eyes and focus on your hand. Really scan your hand in your mind. By this I mean trace your hand as if your hand was on a piece of paper and you were making a hand turkey.

Trace your hand around the perimeter going around the perimeter, then start to scan every finger starting at the wrist. Start at your wrist and try to follow every bone, stopping at the joints, and to your fingertips. Eventually, with practice, you should be able to do a full body scan.

Techniques and Exercises

 Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is about concentrating on your breath. This is done by focusing on how deep you can breathe in and the length of each breath. Just focus on the air that’s moving in and out of your body.

A practice that is common with mindful breathing is to inhale, hold, and exhale for a certain amount of time. For example, you would take a deep breath in for 3 seconds, hold that breath for 3 seconds, and then exhale that breath for 3 seconds. Of course you can extend your breathing for longer than 3 seconds each, but I think this is a good place to start practicing.

Mindfulness

Body Scan

The body scan is my favorite mindfulness technique. As a homemaker, sometimes I am so focused on what I have to do for others until I don’t notice my body and what it’s trying to tell me.

A body scan is just what it says. You are scanning your body like you are one of those MRI scanners. It’s about noticing what’s going on with your body. Are you hungry, are you hurting, are you moody, or is your concentration off? A body scan helps you notice how your right leg feels heavier than your left.

To do a basic body scan, you would find a comfortable position and take a deep breath in. As you take that deep breath in, imagine pushing that air to your brain. While letting out your breath, imagine pushing that air down through your body ending at your feet.

Mindful Observation

I guess I can say that I just like the power of mindfulness, because this technique is my favorite too. Mindful observation is observing things around you in a new light. To me, it’s like imagining yourself looking at the world with child eyes. In a child’s eye, there is no judgment, no opinion or thought. They just see things for what they are.

I know what you’re saying, I do that. But, take for instance an orange. An orange is round, orange, and the skin is smooth yet bumpy. And it has a delightful scent according to the variety and ripeness. The skin seems inedible. When you start to peel that orange, there are little bursts of oils from the skin that creates a mist in your face. Filling your nose with a rush of citrus. 

Okay. I think you get my point. Most of us would just grab that orange and rip it open to get to the flesh as quickly as possible. Mindful observation can be used to observe so much more, like your life, your home, your spouse, and your children.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Dealing with a Busy Mind

Sometimes it can be hard to practice mindfulness when you have so much going on. It’s hard to slow down your brain or refocus your thoughts. Some struggle more than others but the key to this is training your brain. If you set a time for 10 minutes of meditation, just sit there. Whether you are meditating or not, your brain will eventually get the message. After sitting in quietness for a while and your brain has dumped all your thoughts out, you will start to see, hear, and smell your surroundings.

Staying Consistent

There will be interruptions and distractions. There will also be days when you just don’t feel like you have the time or motivation to start. Maintaining a regular practice of mindfulness can be challenging but it’s not impossible.

Start small like 5 minutes a day, then maybe 5 minutes 3 times a day. Then work your way up to longer time slots. Set a time to practice when your life seems less busy like waking a few minutes earlier or right before laying in bed. 

Resources 

I am no expert at mindfulness, I am just speaking on experience and a little research. But if you would like to dive deeper and learn more about mindfulness and its benefits I recommend these resources:

https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/10-minute-meditation

Mindfulness has many benefits  to include stress reduction and better sleep. All you have to do is have the right mindset. It is important to stay consistent and find a suitable environment. It may be difficult at first, but just remember to breathe and that you don’t have to be a professional to understand the power of mindfulness. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *