Are you the type of person who sees mindfulness as a new-age technique for monks, yogis, and hippies? You should not. Being fully present and aware of your thoughts and feelings helps you enjoy a better quality of life overall.
Mindfulness basically boils down to two main premises: attention and acceptance. Mindfulness involves focusing on what is happening in the present by directing your awareness to your breath, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in your body, while acceptance involves observing those feelings and sensations without judgement. It is a beautiful and powerful way of living that draws our attention to the present moment, forcing us to act as observers of our emotions, thoughts, and actions. It also trains us to be non-judgmental and allows us to overcome our difficult times with grace by releasing strong negative emotions.
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You can practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere. For example, if your daughter interrupts you while you’re working from home, you can pay attention by actually listening to her and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings at the time. This will help you respond to him and help your child thrive. Or, while you eat, focus on the taste, texture, and aroma of your meal.
With sustained practice, you will find that focusing on the present can be a liberating experience and can change your whole perspective. It helps us reset and focus better, which is essential for our mental and physical well-being. And right now, we need it more than ever.
In today’s hectic life, we all juggle multiple roles. We strive to be good parents, spouses and friends while trying to be high performing employees. Something has to give, and that’s usually our sanity. Practicing mindfulness can prompt us to take meaningful pauses and be less reactive. Scientific research shows that after a few months of practice, the emotional centers of our brain around the amygdala become calmer.
Here’s how to stay alert
Engage with the senses
Listen for sounds, identify smells, and see what’s in front of you. Stimulating your senses will help bring you into the present moment and help you reset.
Saying “thank you” to someone or feeling grateful for something that brings joy brings out positive emotions and helps you center yourself.
Listen to your body
Notice the different sensations you feel. Do you have a heavy or light head, is your heartbeat fast or slow, or are your eyes tired? This will draw your attention to the present and help you connect with your body.
Some of the ways we could easily incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives
Sipping coffee or tea
Sit comfortably, feel the warmth and shape of the glass, smell the aroma and savor the taste and flavor. Focus on how the liquid feels on your tongue, how sweet it tastes, or watch for the vapor it gives off.
While brushing your teeth
Feel your feet on the floor, the brush in your hand, and your arm moving up and down.
While doing the dishes
Savor the feel of hot water on your hands, the appearance of bubbles and the sound of pans banging at the bottom of the sink.
While doing the laundry
Pay attention to the smell of clean clothes and the feel of fabric.
Relax your hands and grip the steering wheel and focus your view on the roads and the landscape. Feel the wind on your hair and skin, listen to the sound of the car
Pay attention to the taste, sight and textures of what you eat.
Mindful walking or running
Notice the breeze against your skin, the feel of the feet or hands against the different textures of the ground, and the different smells and sights around you.
Try a body scanner
Slowly shift your attention to different parts of your body. Start at the top of your head and work your way down to the tips of your toes. Focus on the feelings of warmth, tension, tingling, or relaxation in different parts of your body.
Keeping a journal to record all the things you’ve been grateful for and to focus on the opportunities that are available to you is also a great way to practice mindfulness.
Not everyone has the bandwidth to give away a lot. However, trying to give, even a little, helps put things in perspective and provides the satisfaction that comes from helping someone.
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When you’re feeling overwhelmed, a quick even-focused breathing session (five to seven minutes) of mindful breathing – focusing on your breath – can help ease the chaos of emotions and thoughts and gently train your attention to stop wandering. .
As a parent
Encourage your children to express themselves openly, to communicate with you, and in the process, make them feel safe and supported.
Bavitha Thomas, Psychologist, Mpower Pune Center