Mindfulness has become a huge part of the #selfcare conversation recently, but what is it, exactly?
Mindfulness is a technique that allows you to be present in the moment—accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations within the world around you.
In a world that often feels like it’s moving very quickly and beyond our control, mindfulness can help bring you back to center. You focus inwardly, acknowledging the feelings that you’re having and accepting them. With this awareness, you can regain your self-control and focus on positive momentum.
But, like everything worth doing, it takes practice. So how can we practice mindfulness?
We’ve got five easy ways to get started:
1. Start journaling
We know what you’re thinking: diaries are for angsty teenagers. But that’s simply not the case. Many people find journaling incredibly therapeutic, and when they’re honest in their writing, it brings clarity to their thoughts and feelings they might not have otherwise.
So how do you start journaling? It’s all very scientific:
- Grab a notebook.
- Grab a pen.
- Just start writing.
It doesn’t have to be cohesive or about any subject in particular at first. Write what comes to you and with no audience in mind but yourself. With practice, you will start to notice big emotions coming through the events you catalog: fear, anxiety, elation, joy. Notice these emotions and don’t turn away. Accept their presence and keep writing.
2. Create a mantra
Now that you have journaled about what is important to you—your sense of well-being, your purpose, your family—write down some easy phrases (seriously, no more than five or six words) that can help you focus on what’s important.
You might say something like “I am in control of myself” or “I flow from love” or “Everything will happen in its time.” The more succinct, the better! And remember to keep your language active and simple.
Now that you have a mantra, practice saying it every day. You can start in the morning before you brush your teeth or in the car on the way to work. As you say it more and more, you are training your brain to know that this mantra is true and important.
When you have moments of distress, confusion or overwhelm, you can repeat this mantra back to yourself. It will bring you away from those worries and into the present moment with “I can do this!” feelings.
3. Say “thank you” every day
This is a fun one. Saying “thank you” is easy and it makes others feel great, right? Well, we’re not talking about just when someone holds open a door. Finding meaningful reasons to say thank you every day means the big stuff, too.
Finding new ways to say thank you every day means that you will be more present and mindful throughout the day and taking more time to notice the things other people do for you. (Are you getting the theme here?)
4. Learn to meditate
For some, meditation seems daunting.
I can’t turn my brain off.
I have kids, dogs, a job, a life!
I can’t focus for hours on end on nothing.
But these are actually all the reasons to start meditating—not reasons to avoid it. When it comes to meditation, no one starts out by being able to do it well, and they especially can’t do it for an hour. It’s okay for your mind to wander, and it’s okay to start in increments of three or five minutes. The practice of meditation is all about becoming aware: aware of how your body feels, aware of your thoughts, aware of your distractions.
If you’re new to meditation, we recommend starting with a guided meditation practice. You can find these in apps like Headspace and Calm. You can also find some free resources on the internet as well. Guided meditations gently remind you to focus on your breath and help you to acknowledge your thoughts when they wander—without sacrificing too much of your focus.
Once you’re practiced at meditation, you can do it anytime, anywhere. When you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed, you can do a little meditation to center yourself and then say your mantra. See—it’s all coming together now, isn’t it?
5. Spend time in nature
There’s nothing quite like nature to give you perspective about your worries or struggles. Simply walking outside for a few minutes a day can give you back a sense of belonging and mindfulness. So leave that phone on the counter, get outside and breathe some fresh air.
(Bonus points if you spend time meditating or journaling while you’re out there.)
Looking for another great way to be present in the moment?
Try a relaxing massage to add some clarity to your day!