Cell phones, email, 24-hour news, the Internet and social media – the technologies of modern life have developed an “always on” society. With so many potential distractions competing for our attention these days, the ability to focus has become a precious commodity.
Do you have a demanding job, endless responsibilities, and just can’t seem to relax? Wouldn’t it be nice if you were able “let go” of the idle worries and concerns that come along with life’s struggles? One way to experience the present moment and be more accepting and open to what life may bring is being more mindful. Mindfulness is the intentional process of paying attention and being aware of our moment-to-moment experiences in a non-judgmental way. It’s about simply acknowledging what may be happening or how we may be feeling at the time, without becoming critical or emotionally absorbed in the experience. It allows us to become more aware and focused in everything we are doing without unhealthy attachment and concern.
We no longer have to go through life on autopilot where we’re bored by mundane tasks and frustrated by minor inconveniences. We can embrace the present moment, develop a tranquil attitude, and experience greater satisfaction regardless of what is taking place. Research even reveals that certain mindfulness based practices can enhance well-being.
Whether we are sitting and formally meditating, doing chores around the house, or going for a walk, we can keep our attention on the present moment through focusing on our senses, breathe, or body. Mindfulness can be cultivated through many practices, and one particularly productive meditative intervention is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, MBSR programs have been associated with well-being benefits, and alter brain activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with positive emotions. MBSR can also increase immune system function, decrease stress hormones, and provide an intervention in dealing with chronic pain.
Ways to practice mindfulness
Mindfulness sitting meditation.
This involves focusing on the breath as the foundation for retaining attention In mindful breathing we naturally observe our breath. This is a wonderful way to build the skill of mindfulness so it can be incorporated in to everyday life.
Mindfulness of body senations.
Mindfulness can also be practiced by being mindful of body sensations, thoughts and emotions, which can all be done through mindfulness sitting meditation. Mindfulness can be cultivated through mindful eating, and mindful movement, such as stretching and using postures that enhance awareness of balance and strength in the body.
Body scan meditation.
This is where we observe any sensations throughout the body from the toes to the head, can be helpful as well. Ultimately, incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life is how this practice can neutralize stress, improve life-satisfaction, and increase well-being. When you intend to focus and pay attention to your inner and external world it helps keep you centered, and more open to momentary experience.
No matter what you’re doing, whether simple chores or your daily work, remember to stay present and focused through your senses, body, and breath.