Having been around for thousands of years, mindfulness exercises have been acknowledged and recognized by modern science for their number of helpful benefits.
The definition of mindfulness might be vague or confusing for many and so it is important to define first what it means so that we can fully understand more its critical part in a healthy life and how you can achieve it.
Have you tried walking on a shoreline and felt peace and calm while the birds are singing and you smell the fragrant flowers or feel the salty sea?
There it is. That is the moment where you are mindful.
You see, mindfulness is the state of being aware but not in a judgmental or analytical manner. You may be sometimes alert to your surroundings but if you find yourself afraid or excited about it, then you are not in a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of complete awareness without any judgment.
WHY PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
When you are practicing or when you are in a state of mindfulness, you let those preconceived notions you have just exist but not affect you in any way.
You may, of course, think or feel certain things about a situation or scenario but you are more able to distinguish between your ideas and the real existential truth if you are being mindful.
Doing so can help you get to know yourself better and help you make better and wiser decisions in life. Alongside the wisdom that you get from practicing mindfulness, there is also peacefulness in the absence of judgment.
Becoming aware of your surroundings and not projecting any bias on them will make you feel a sense of calm. you will, later on, realize that only your thoughts and actions are the things that you are totally in control of.
Being mindful releases the need to control things beyond your capacity, thus giving you sufficient peace of mind. You will be amazed how you become wiser in your choices, how you become less judgmental, and how you feel calmer about your life experiences and this would naturally enhance in every part of your life. You will also notice how your relationships become more fulfilling, how your life’s work will become more apparent, and that your confidence rises as you pursue things you want.
Negativities may arise inevitably but you will not be shaken. You will feel peace because you understand that this is just another happening outside of you and you don’t have to worry because you are in control of what’s inside you.
Here are simple daily exercises to help you achieve the state of mindfulness:
1. BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU SENSE
When to use it: This is a perfect exercise especially when you are being anxious and stressed. During these times, you are judging what is happening around and you are consciously setting out expectations and reluctance about the future.
Focus on what is happening by using your five senses instead.
What would be the benefit? You’ll be focused on the here and now. You will free your mind from judgments, apprehensions, worries, and fears.
How to do it:
1. Choose an object that you can easily hold.
2. Now, focus your attention on the object and say as loud as you can what you see about it. Simply describe its color, texture, and shape. Remember, do not judge. Do not say “I see a weird-looking object” or “this color is pale.”. Only state the facts.
3. This time, focus your attention on how the object feels as you are holding it. If possible, rub the object on your face or your arm. You can squeeze it or just do anything to describe what it feels. Again, clear your mind from judgments.
4. Then, small the object and describe it the simplest way you can. If it doesn’t smell good, do not say it smells awful. You can use comparison instead like, “this object smells earthy and old, like compost.”
5. If you could taste the object, do so. If not, however, you can close your eyes and just focus on what you can taste in your mouth. Maybe it’s coffee, or the lunch you just ate, or maybe you simply taste the air. Describe what you can taste in detail without any judgment.
6. Lastly, hold the object to your ear and listen to it. You can tap it on or shake and find out what sound it makes. Keep your focus on the sound. Focus deeply and keep on listening even for the faintest sound. Describe what you hear in detail without judgment.
2. BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU EAT
When to use it: You can practice this every time you sit down for a snack, a meal or you are just about to eat something. Sometimes we find ourselves mindlessly eating in front of the TV so this exercise is extremely beneficial in that part.
What is the benefit? If you are mindlessly eating something, you are either taking in too much or you are not in for some healthy options. Mindful eating can help a lot in digesting your food better. If you suffer from digestive problems, this exercise can do so much work for you and you can decrease the symptoms by helping your body stay in tune with digestion. If you are having a diet or following a nutritional plan, this exercise can also help you stay on track.
How to do it:
1. Before you begin to eat, look closely at your food and describe what it looks like. You describe its color, its texture, its shape without using any judgmental words.
2. Smell your food and try to describe its smell, again without judgment. This can be quite a challenge since you will most likely want to say things like, “It smells great” or “It smells weird.” Instead, you can say it like this, “It smells sweet, spicy, and a combination of both.”
3. What you’ll do next is to listen to your food. Is it sizzling? Can you hear the air moving through your food? Move your food around using your spoon or fork, what does it sound like?
4. Take a small bite of your food and focus on that. Experience it in your mouth first and don’t chew it yet. Keep a mental note of what it tastes like. Then, slowly chew down your food and focus on all the sensations you get. Notice the different tastes it has on the different parts of your tongue. and now, notice how it feels against your cheek and teeth.
5. Finally, swallow your food and slowly take a moment to feel it moving down from your throat to your esophagus. Do not take another bite yet. Focus your attention on the movement and sensations of your food. After doing so, take another bite and repeat the last two steps.
3. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR BREATH
When to use it: Anytime, anywhere!
What is the benefit? One of the most beneficial exercises, mindful breathing is especially beneficial to fully bring yourself to the present moment. Mindful breathing can instantly bring you a sense of calm and peace even when you are in the most stressful situations. Keep practicing it because the more you do so, the better you will be.
How to use it:
1. Take a deep breath and try to take another in the same length of time.
2. Now, focus on your breath. Feel your breath as it enters your nose, fill your lungs and let it exit through your mouth.
3. Focus your attention and notice any sensations in your body as you breathe in and out. Just focus and observe it but do not alter or change your breathing pattern.
4. As soon as a thought comes into your mind, do not fight against it. Just let it pass by but do not analyze it. You can acknowledge it but just allow it to pass while at the same time bringing your attention back to your breathing.
5. Sometimes you can’t control your body to fidget and you will be distracted. Do not judge yourself if this happens. Just let it happen and slowly bring back your attention to your breath. Do not fight against what is happening around you. Just let outside things happen outside. Allow yourself to simply let everything happen around you. Again, acknowledge it but go back to focusing on your breath.
TIPS TO MAKE MINDFULNESS A HABIT
Practice these exercises every single day and you’ll begin to notice the positive effects of mindfulness in your life. The more you spend time doing so, the more benefits you will see.
Make it a habit by setting an alarm for 3 moments every day. Pick those times that you know you are most likely going to be busy and distracted. When the alarm goes off, stop yourself from what you are doing and take at least 10 minutes to practice one of the three exercises above.
You can also change your alarms every day if you make excuses like it’s not a good time and that you’re going to do it later. You can surprise yourself by setting alarms like 2:43 pm or 10:19 am, just any random time that could just catch yourself randomly at a busy moment. The exercise of mindfulness is gonna come to you as a relief and you will be thankful for it.