Mindfulness, a concept that comes from Buddhism, has become quite a mainstream practice today with many thought leaders recommending it as a way to achieve mental balance and help manage stress. But, the benefits are not just anecdotal, research on mindfulness is demonstrating some incredible benefits to health. You may want to try mindfulness, but may be unsure where to start. Here are some of our best tips to help you get the most benefit from mindfulness:
- Set an intention. The first step is to decide WHY you want to be more mindful. Maybe you are struggling with racing thoughts and you think mindfulness will help. Or maybe you just want to be more focused or present at work. Thinking about your intentions before you get started can help you stay motivated as you begin to develop your practice.
- Drop the competition. Mindfulness is about you. There is no “right” way to do it. Just because someone else has time to meditate two hours a day, doesn’t mean that is ideal for you. Even five minutes of mindfulness can help, doing something is better than nothing at all. Get out of the competitiveness when it comes to your daily practice.
- Learn to stay present during day-to-day tasks. How many times are you driving somewhere and when you arrive you don’t even remember how you got there? Your mind was wandering the whole time? Just learning to stay present during day-to-day tasks like driving, cooking, or folding laundry is a type of mindfulness practice. Instead of just letting your mind wander, focus on what you are doing. Pay attention to the feeling of the steering wheel in your hands or the sights and sounds on the road. Giving attention to simple tasks will help you begin to learn how to tame your wandering, anxious mind.
- If you do have time to sit and be still, aim for just 5 minutes to begin. Ideally, a mindfulness practice would include some time of intentional stillness or meditation. But, it can be hard to jump into an hour long meditation practice if you are beginner. If you are new, even a few minutes can seem like an eternity. So, start small and work your way up.
- Get some guidance. It may be easier to dive into mindfulness with a bit of guidance. This can come in the form of an app you download on your phone (there are dozens), a meditation CD or podcast, or even a mindfulness class. With the popularity of meditation and mindfulness these days many local colleges, gyms, or community centers are offering these types of classes.
- Find a routine and stick with it. The secret to mindfulness is the more you do it, the more you will benefit. So, it must become a routine. Pick a location, time, and comfortable posture you can practice in. Set a reminder on your phone and do your routine every day if possible.
- Breathe. If these suggestions seem overwhelming to you, the best thing you can do is just practice breathing. Taking even 10-15 seconds throughout the day to focus on your breathing, instead of letting your mind wander all over the place is an excellent place to start. So just breathe….