Mindfulness: The Art of Being Present
Have you ever made it all the way from your front door to your desk in the morning, and wondered if you turned off the stove, or locked the door, or even how you got there? We live in a world that is constantly in motion, which can lead to intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and being overwhelmed, leaving us exhausted and desperate for rest. Overall, this constant stress can lead to poor mental and physical health.
Most people are familiar with the recommendation that you should get at least thirty minutes of physical activity a day in order to keep your body healthy, and this is definitely important. But in this stressful world, many of us would benefit from taking more time each day to focus on our mental wellbeing by exercising our minds. There is a practice for focusing on mental health called “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is a practice that involves being present and aware of yourself and your surroundings. It is a relaxation technique that has been proven to hold many powerful benefits to mental and physical health.
Registered Psychologist at Cornerstone Counselling Centre, Jim Chalmers, offers his expert advice on mindfulness, indicating that “mindfulness is an exercise that one can learn to reduce stress and improve one’s quality of life.” He explains that mindfulness teaches you how to dramatically reduce stress, which has an unequivocally positive effect on overall health.
Incorporating mindfulness into your life might seem a little tricky, but there are multiple options. A good place to begin would be with guided mindfulness meditation practices, which are easily accessed online. One of the first steps to achieving mindfulness is becoming aware of the simple things that are going on around you—such as paying attention to your breathing or noticing the little thoughts that go through your mind. Becoming mindful is uncomplicated, but it is not easy. It requires your full attention, and quite a bit of discipline.
Chalmers explains that mindfulness is a skill that you can improve and build upon, and eventually you can have the ability to utilize this skill in stressful situations. Just as you set aside time to go to the gym to work out, in order to improve your mindfulness you should set aside some time to practice being mindful. Generally, ten minutes a day for six to seven days a week should be an adequate amount of time to begin with. Within a short period of three to four weeks, you should be able to feel the benefits within daily life. Some of the benefits that you might notice include:
- A reduction of intrusive and stressful thoughts
- Improved memory and concentration
- Improved insight into feelings and reactions
- Improved emotional flexibility
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved sleep
Simple tasks that you perform daily by just going through the motions—such as turning off the stove or locking the door—could be done mindfully, simply by becoming conscious of our present actions. This is one of the first steps to achieving a state of being aware, calm, and present, which all add up to mindfulness. Mindfulness has the ability to improve your quality of life. The more you practice mindfulness, the more “mentally fit” you will be; therefore the better you can utilize this skill to deal with stress and handle tough situations, in order to enhance overall wellbeing.