Mindful practices have been used for centuries as a way to enhance and improve personal well-being. Rooted in activities that raise awareness to our emotional state, we're able to gently guide and direct how our mental state will influence our physical, emotional, and spiritual ones.
The world has become a busier place. It is louder, filled with distractions, and for many this lead to a deeper sense of anxiety, fear, and worry. Those feelings only add to the mental and physical pain, muddying the waters, and making it harder for us to focus and concentrate our energy on positivity, growth, and healthy change. We become less present and become fixated on things in the past or project into the future, neither of which are in our control.
Have you ever hear the old saying, "yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery and today is a gift, that is why we call it the present."
Mindful practices reinforce staying in the moment by reconnecting you in very deliberate and thoughtful ways. When you regularly engage in mindful practice, you gain the powerful ability to control your mind from wandering too far into the past or future, gently guiding yourself back to the present moment. And as your thoughts are redirected, your ability to control your responses will improve, causing you to approach things in a more intentional and insightful way.
Through mindful practice you'll realize a deeper level of acceptance that empowers you to live more connected in mind, body and spirit, to yourself and the world around you. In this way, mindful practice promotes a more fulfilled and meaningful life.
Benefits of engaging in Mindful Practice
Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces chronic pain
Enhances mental clarity and focus
Empowers natural coping abilities
Why are mindful practices so effective?
Because they engage each of the senses, asking for acceptance so that we can appreciate the here and now and not only come to terms with our present environment, but truly be present in it. In other words these practices ask us to concentrate our focus, removing judgement, worry, self critique and distraction, they invite you to simply be. People who regularly engage in these practices find they are able to block out the disturbances and interruptions of the world around them. They acknowledge the chill in a room, the buzzing of a fly, the itch of hair brushed across the forehead and then turn their focus within, allowing them to sink deeper into a state of calm, peace and serenity. They move further away from negative influences and embrace the positive. They discover a freedom that comes from releasing fears, anxieties, regrets, resentments, and worry, and experience the joy that comes from calm, peace, serenity, happiness and love.
Examples of mindful practices:
The body scan
Various types of meditation
How to get started - a step by step guide for mindful meditation
Start by sitting cross legged on the floor or in a straight-backed chair.
Close your eyes and focus on an aspect of your breathing, noting the sensation of inhaling air deeply in though your nostrils and exhaling it out through your mouth.
Note how your belly rises and falls with each inhale and exhale.
Begin to narrow your concentration, continuing to raise awareness to the rhythm of your breathing.
As you feel more comfortable, widen your focus to other senses, now opening awareness to the sounds and sensations of the moment including thoughts and ideas in your mind.
Embrace and consider each thought or sensation that comes to you without judgment - it is not good or bad, it simply is.
If you find your mind begin to race or dart off in other directions, slowly bring your focus back to your breathing, as you feel regained focus and a calm return begin to explore expanding your awareness once again.
Repeat these steps as many times as you need to, for 5 minutes or 60! The longer you practice, the easier it becomes and the more effective you will find it to be.
Bottom line - mindful practices take time, effort, patience and practice. Like many things in life, the more we put in the more we will receive in return, and the more frequently we engage in these practices, the more confident we feel entering into them. These practices provide a healthy coping tool, a way to gain greater understating, a means to connect deeper to the world around you, an empowering way to approach daily life. There are a variety of ways to enjoy mindful practices, explore different methods until you discover the one that resonates most with you!
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