5 Things You Need to Know About Mindfulness

stacked rocks, mindfulness

Photo by Ozgur Donmaz/Getty; below: Meditation expert Andy Puddicombe. Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

 

Practicing present moment awareness is an inexpensive way to live a less stressful life.

Practicing mindfulness gives us an opportunity to take a little mental break from our busy lives. Creating good habits, like taking time to focus on the present moment, can help keep life's stressors from taking over.

A new study from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals annual meeting suggests that using mindful breathing may even have benefits to our physical health as well. More than half of the participants in the study say mindful breathing helped with their chronic pain, and some used the practice to replace medications, such as opioids.

If you aren't familiar with mindfulness, here are five things you need to know.

We’re talking about practice. We will never get good at anything without practice. Experts recommend finding ten minutes for mindfulness throughout the day, preferably in the morning. Set a timer or alert on your phone to help you create and maintain the habit. Mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “If you can learn how to live in this present moment, then mindfulness doesn’t take any time at all. You’re moving through life, surfing on your breath and handling whatever comes up as you need to.”

It’s not voodoo. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, have roots in many cultures dating back thousands of years. This may make some think that there is some sort of mysticism involved, but mindfulness is a natural process that allows to focus on your present awareness. You can practice mindfulness by washing the dishes or walking your dog. As long you are focused on the moment and don’t let yesterday or tomorrow creep in, you are where you need to be. Need Help? That’s easy. Andy Puddicombe’s leading meditation app Headspace, has proven to be a leader in teaching mindfulness. Andy’s easy-going attitude and soothing voice guide you through the journey of your inner you. The first 10 sessions are free. If you like what you hear (and feel), a monthly subscription opens a whole new world of meditations designed for specific areas in your life, including stress and anxiety.

The time is now. If your life is busy and you aren’t sure about the timing to start practicing mindfulness, how about now? Jack Kornfield, author of No Time Like the Present and mainly responsible for introducing mindfulness to Western culture, says there is no time better than the present to start your mindfulness journey. Being mindful can open the door to getting more joy and fulfillment out of your life.

Build a Better Brain. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can strengthen parts of your brain designed for empathy and self-awareness, according to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Just One Thing and Hardwiring Happiness. Being mindful can thicken the brain’s cortical layers that help us focus and activate the left prefrontal cortex that keeps our negativity in check.

 

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