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A Guide to Mindfulness

Mindfulness doesn't require you to be a Buddhist monk. Instead, it's a practice that cultivates present moment awareness with a compassionate mind. Simply put, it's exercising your mind through the practice of being aware and bringing calm to your state of mind while living in the present moment. And over time, this practice builds your resilience to stress, improves mental and physical health, and improves your quality of life.


It's a quality that we all possess; it's just a matter of accessing and practicing it.


The basics of mindfulness practice

Mindfulness is a tool that helps us slow down, take a breath, and respond thoughtfully rather than out of habit. Here are four simple ways to be more mindful throughout your day:

  1. Set aside some time. You don’t need any special equipment or a “special” place to do it. It simply involves setting aside specific time for you to sit in quiet and experience your body and mind as they are in the here and now.

  2. Focus on the moment: It's not about eliminating feelings or attempting to stay in a constant state of calm. Although it's easier said than done, the idea is to focus on the present moment without judgment simply.

  3. Let your judgments roll by. Sometimes when we practice mindfulness, we become aware of how judgmental we are. We notice the judgments arise in our minds and make an effort to let them go.

  4. Be kind to your wandering mind. Instead of judging your wandering mind, try to recognize the state. When you notice your mind drifts off, gently bring it back.

Types of mindfulness practices


There are several different forms of mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness-based interventions. These include:


  • Body scan meditation

  • Breathing meditation

  • Loving-kindness meditation

  • Observing-thought meditation

In today's fast-paced world, living in the moment can be challenging. And since mindfulness isn't one-size-fits-all -- you can choose the form that works best for you. Spending time in nature, listening to your favorite songs, or doing some simple housework can be a meditation in itself if you let it!

The benefits of mindfulness practice

Generally speaking, being mindful helps us appreciate life just as it is. As we become more aware of our body, emotions, and thoughts, we receive the following in return:


  • A longer attention span. If you consider your mind as a muscle, meditation is the exercise that increases its strength and flexibility.


  • Feelings of kindness. When you choose to focus on the present moment without judgment, you increase your feelings of empathy and compassion. Over time, you come to experience feelings like joy, connection with others, and appreciation for life.


  • Improved emotional health. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as increase overall brain health. Some forms of mindfulness meditation have also been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) has been shown to have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.


  • Better sleep. Meditation allows you to cope with the anxiety-provoking thoughts that keep you up late while releasing any tension to promote a peaceful, relaxed state before bedtime.


Takeaway


Mindfulness is an accessible tool that anyone can utilize to improve their mental, physical, and emotional health. With its rich history and variety of styles, you can learn how to cope with and reduce anxiety, ultimately feeling calmer and relaxed. Taking a few minutes each day to be present is one of the easiest ways to improve your life quality. The experts at Blue Oak Counseling Services are here to help you start your journey towards mindfulness.

Call or contact us today and speak with one of our compassionate care providers to discover the available treatment options.




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