Mindfulness is a psychological technique rooted in Eastern philosophy and meditation. A lot of people confuse mindfulness and meditation, but they are not one in the same. Here, I will provide some basics about mindfulness, what mindfulness can be used for, and a few sample exercises.
Definition of mindfulness:
There are many different definitions of mindfulness, but one of the most concise and specific is being in the present moment, without judgement.
How can mindfulness be helpful:
Current research supports a 45-minute daily mindfulness practice as a method for stress reduction. The specific program upon which this finding is based is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which was developed by John Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979.
Emerging evidence suggests that small, simple mindfulness exercises are helpful for managing anxiety, depression, trauma-related conditions, cravings related to substance abuse, and general wellbeing. Long-story short, a daily mindfulness practice has the ability to benefit most people.
Sample mindfulness exercises:
Please remember that mindfulness is about being in the present moment without judgment. While doing any one of these exercises, you're likely to drift into thought. This is totally fine. When you catch your mind wandering, simply return your attention to the exercise.
1) Mindful Breathing
- Start by brining your attention to your breath. Simply notice it going in and out of your body.
- Next, start breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Finally, attempt to breath in and out for the same amount of time (e.g., to a count of 4 in and a count of 4 out).
- Repeat this for a minimum of 5 breaths, but you can also do it for longer periods of time.
- If at any point you drift away from the exercise, simply return your attention to your breath.
2) Mindful Listening
- Start by brining your attention to your breath. Simply notice your breath going in and out of your body.
- Next, bring your attention to the sounds in the environment.
- Sit for a few minutes, simply listening to the sounds. If you get distracted, gently return your attention to the sounds in the environment.