In 2020, the onset of a worldwide pandemic caused visible, physical, and audible shifts in the entire world and how we interact with it. We could feel people developing a greater need to connect with themselves and find ways to move past the heaviness of the world. While things like mindfulness and intentionality have been around forever, we have seen an increase in their presence in the public sphere. The idea of mindfulness, integrating with nature, and spending more time with yourself has become a hot topic for podcasts, TV shows, social media, and other forms of public programming. By May of 2020 apps like Headspace and Calm had seen an influx of downloads in the millions, ranging from 1.5 million to 3.9 million, respectively.
Some would call this a fad, something to wax and wane with the human attention span, but not all fads are bads! Mindfulness is a call to attention, and a request for you to return home to yourself. It is behavior that asks you “what is more important than learning yourself and becoming centered?”
What is Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is the therapeutic practice of being in the moment. It is a practice where you are in tune with your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and the environment around you. Mindfulness is the practice of drawing intentional awareness to the here and now, without judgment or expectation. It is something that everyone should practice because it allows you to give thanks, take inventory, and just be with yourself.
What are the benefits of mindfulness:
-Decreased rumination (or harboring on a single thought/thing)
-Improved cognition (thinking)
-Increased emotional regulation (control)
What are some ways to practice Mindfulness:
–Journaling allows you to focus on what you are presently thinking or feeling. You can practice mindfulness through a guided journal that gives you prompts or questions to answer, or through an old-fashioned lined journal where you choose to write down whatever you are most aware of at the moment. Journaling has long term benefits by allowing for reflection on previous experiences and states of mind.
–Meditation can give you an increased sense of calm and peace. Requiring an emphasis on breath and breathing, meditation requires you to clear your mind and focus on the simplicity of life around and inside of you. According to Healthline (2020), meditation also reduces stress, manages anxiety, and increases your self-awareness.
–Deep breathing: Breath by James Nestor (2020) illuminates the benefits of breathing and being in tune with your breath. His book explores the transformative powers of breathing, and how it can help you to improve health outcomes, regulate your heartbeat, and lower your blood pressure. It is also a wonderful calming technique that encourages you to think before you speak, and even choose to not speak at all.
–Going outside for a walk: Nature allows for the simplest mindfulness experience, because you can just be. Going outside and breathing in the fresh air, taking a walk and noticing the crunch of leaves or gravel beneath your feet, or even just sitting outside for extended periods of time can increase your mood. Walking outside has increased benefits because it doubles as exercise, time alone with your thoughts, and requires a heightened need for deep breathing.
–Thoughtfully listening to music: Music has healing powers that can be manifested when you interact with it intentionally. A way this can be done is by picking a song that mimics your emotions or an emotion you wish to feel. You can then choose to dissect the entire song, or a line that speaks to you the most. You can observe how the song makes you feel in certain parts of your body, or what thoughts it keeps bringing forward for you.
How can therapy deepen your connection between yourself and mindfulness?
Therapy can assist you on your journey to increased mindfulness by helping you sort through the emotions and thoughts that continue to arise. When you are able to address the things that are plaguing your mind and body, you are able to create space to just be. When you are no longer holding on to the past, you are able to make more room for the present, and develop the mental fortitude for the future.
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- Cho, Jeena. (2016). 6 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Mindfulness And Meditation. Forbes Magazine. Web accessed October 2022.
- Cherry, Kendra. (2022). Benefits of Mindfulness. VeryWellMind.com. Web accessed October 2022.
- Davis, Daphne, Hayes, Jeffrey. (2012). What are the Benefits of Mindfulness? American Psychological Association. July/August 2012, Vol 43, No. 7.
- Nestor, James. (2020). Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Penguin Life.
- Thorpe, Mathew. (2020). 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation. Nutrition.com. Web accessed October 2022.