Mindfulness has taken over the world of well-being and mental health in the past year. It essentially involves being fully aware of your physical and emotional feelings in the moment, and while it’s often associated with meditation, there are many ways to practice mindfulness which have positive effects on your physical and mental well-being. Studies of mindfulness have shown that it relieves stress, increases productivity, improves mental and physical health, and even aids weight loss. Mindfulness is a way of reconnecting yourself to the world, heightening your awareness, and understanding your moods, but you don’t need a trained practitioner to see the benefits. You can try these five simple mindfulness techniques whenever you have a spare fifteen minutes – before bed, on your lunch break, or even during a quick trip to the bathroom!
Scan Your Body
Body scanning is a common mindfulness practice, involving focusing your attention on different parts of your body and noticing how they feel. Close your eyes and progressively pay attention to your body, from the bottom to the top – a minute on your feet, then your lower legs, then your hips, and so on. Notice any feelings of pain, heaviness, or tension to improve your bodily awareness and relieve physical stress.
Extend mindfulness from yourself towards others by learning to listen mindfully in your interactions with friends, family, and colleagues. Instead of focusing on what you’re going to say next when someone else is speaking, pay attention to their words, facial expressions, and tone of voice. This will help you understand the other person’s aims more and form more meaningful responses in future.
Put on your favorite song and start moving your body to the music. Pay attention to your movements as you dance – what are the feelings in your arms as you sway them? Which parts of your body feel heavy, or light? How do you feel as you move? – and try to put other thoughts out of your mind. Dancing is an excellent way of centering yourself in the moment which is the central aim of mindfulness.
Paying attention to your breathing is a great way of becoming aware of where you’re storing stress in your body and how to alleviate it. Spend fifteen minutes with your eyes closed, paying attention to the movement of your breath – follow it as it travels through your nose towards your belly and back again, imagining sending air to the knots of stress in your body to loosen them.
Search YouTube For Mindfulness Meditations
Guided meditation, where someone instructs you to gradually become aware of your body, is the most common way to practice mindfulness. These days, there are plenty of free guided meditation tutorials online so search YouTube for one of a length that suits you – ten minutes, half an hour, or more – and let yourself relax as a calming voice guides you through the process.
Research into mindfulness has shown that it increases grey matter density in the hippocampus, increasing your ability to learn and remember things, heightens the ability to handle stress constructively, and brings positive feelings and self-acceptance. Trying these easy mindfulness techniques a couple of times a week could improve your life significantly so give them a go next time you’ve got some spare time.
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Photos by: RR Abrot | Bảo-Quân Nguyễn | Yaoqi LAI