Mindfulness as a practice is about personal intimacy. It’s about going inside and exploring your internal landscape as you let go and cultivate acceptance and self-compassion. It’s a pilgrimage you take inside as an act of devotion to your greater well-being.
- Mindfulness increases overall well-being by helping people let go of their worries and make peace with their past.
- Mindfulness also supports our well-being by increasing our ability to connect with others therefore increasing social support.
- Research shows that mindfulness has a positive impact on our physical, emotional and mental health.
- Studies have shown that a mindfulness practice can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
- Experts believe that mindfulness works by helping one accept their emotional experiences more fully rather than create resistance that can further intensify these feelings.
- Research has led psychotherapists to recommend mindfulness practices to help people with complex conditions such as, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How To Start Practicing
Start small – If the idea of mindfulness or meditation is overwhelming start small. Begin by paying more attention to the sights, sounds, sensations, and smells in your life. Keep a journal and spend a little time each night reflecting on what you saw or felt each day.
Explore stillness: Start to identify how much stillness you have in your life and how much you stay in motion. Begin seeking out moments of stillness. Slowing down, taking a walk, being in nature, or sitting silently in the sunshine. Notice how often you talk yourself out of a moment of stillness because you feel the pressure to get things done and not fall behind. Experiment with this notion and see how even a few minutes of slowing down can enhance the rest of your day.
Take five: If you are new to mindfulness and meditation start by carving out five minutes a day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Although longer sessions offer more long-term benefits, it is more important that you choose an amount of time that is achievable so you can create a sustainable practice. As you start to notice more benefits, you will naturally want to create more time for practice.
Retreat: If you are struggling to get started with your practice it can be helpful to go on retreat and leave your day-to-day life behind for a bit. A mindfulness retreat will teach you new skills, surround you with like-minded people, create some space from your daily responsibilities and give you focused time to jumpstart your practice.
Group meditation: Find a group to practice with on a regular basis. If you can’t find one, create one with a few other people. The group structure can help provide some integrity for your practice and the support from the other members of your group will help you be consistent.