A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness | by Raine Rivas

Mindfulness is definitely not a new word for any of us. It is commonly associated with yoga, meditation, and even finding our inner “zen”- but what exactly does that mean? In reality, mindfulness is not an elaborate technique that takes huge amounts of focus and effort to do; it is simply adopting a sense of real awareness and incorporating it into our daily lives. Before we get into defining this practice, let’s examine the current situation of those around us and how stress affects individuals in all aspects of life.

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It is normal for us to undergo stress in our lives, but if it persists for extended periods of time and remains at high levels, lasting negative effects can start to appear. Immune system issues, heart problems, insomnia, and anxiety are just a few examples of the outcomes of chronic (or long-term) stress. Taking this into account, mindfulness can now be considered a necessity for everyone.

So what does it mean to be truly mindful? One aspect of mindfulness is paying attention to what is going on in the present. It is incredibly easy to start getting caught up with thoughts of our mistakes, shortcomings, or difficulties that will come up in our minds.

I myself have been labeled a worrywart, mainly because of my tendency to bring up things I regretted doing, or negatively projecting about events that haven’t even happened yet. Some of you may find this pattern of thinking very familiar; perhaps your thoughts also get tangled up in the past and the future.

What is harmful about this mindset is the fact that it totally blocks our view of what is happening around us in real time. The first step towards achieving a state of mindfulness is putting our lives on “pause”- taking the time to clear our minds and be aware of what is going on at the moment.

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Here is a simple technique for immersing the self in the present:

  1. Find a quiet and peaceful area, and get into a comfortable position.
  2. Regulate your breathing.
  3. Do your best to clear your mind of your current worries.
  4. Start your “roll-call” of your senses and your feelings: What can I see? What can I hear and smell around me? What do I feel in my body right now? What were my main emotions and thoughts today?

Doing this short exercise can help us get to a place of more peacefulness and clarity. Another aspect of mindfulness is acceptance. This means recognizing our thoughts and feelings without immediately judging them. Here are some examples of immediate judgement: “I really want to rest tomorrow, but that’s so selfish, I told my friend I would go to her event.” or, “I feel like I really messed up this quarter, I’m such a disappointment.” It is important that we assess what is inside our minds without distorting them.

Practicing these two components (awareness and acceptance) will help us attain a better mindset not only during times of silence, but throughout our daily lives as well. Once we train our minds to be more present and accepting, we will start to find ourselves thinking more clearly even while experiencing problems.

Lastly, remember that mindfulness isn’t a fancy meditation process! It’s something we can all easily practice every single day.

For more simple mindfulness exercises you can try, click here: https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/

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