Mindfulness is something we hear about a lot. But how many of us really practice mindfulness in our daily lives? It’s difficult to juggle all of our responsibilities — work, school, a spouse, kids, pets, and so much more. But the truth is that our minds weren’t created for multitasking. As much as we would love to believe that we can do everything at once, that’s just not possible. In the end, we will just feel burned out, which can lead to a number of different health problems.
What is mindfulness?
Before we start talking about the benefits of practicing mindfulness in our daily lives, let’s first explain what mindfulness is. The answer is pretty simple and straightforward — it’s being present. Just experiencing the moment that you are currently in, without feeling anxious about the future or sad about the past. The present moment is all we really have, and mindfulness is all about embracing that.
When we’re at our jobs, school, or just going around town running errands — we often think about 10 different things at once. Our minds just shift from one thought to the other, making us feel stressed out, and like we don’t have enough time to complete everything on our to-do list. In reality, most of the things that go through our minds aren’t nearly as important as we make them out to be.
There is an expression in Buddhism called “monkey mind”, and it’s used to describe our inability to quiet our mind when there are too many thoughts and worries swirling around our heads. Often, our monkey mind starts to manifest when our thoughts are disagreeing with our surroundings. Like when you’re stuck in traffic, or you are attending a conference call you’re not particularly enjoying. These moments are inevitable, however, an untamed monkey mind will start to howl and spit as soon as the present moment does align with what it wants.
How to tame your monkey mind?
It’s much easier said than done. The only way to truly tame your monkey mind is to pay attention to the moment you’re currently experiencing. But this will look different from person to person. Start small — pay attention to the things that are surrounding you. When you’re outside and walking, get also outside your own head and embrace all the different things around you.
Another way is to focus on your breathing. When you feel like things are getting a bit too much, focus on your breaths. Breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth. This will help your mind to calm down, and it will also lower your anxiety. Meditation is another great mindfulness practice. If you are a beginner, look up guided meditation videos, and try to meditate for 15 minutes each day.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness?
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are pretty much endless. It’s not only your mind that will be quieter and have an easier time getting through the day, but you will also notice a change in your body and overall health. People underestimate the effects that our thoughts have on our bodies. Chronic psychological stress causes issues such as insomnia, high blood pressure, low energy, headaches, stomach upset, and difficulty concentrating.
By practicing mindfulness and reaching a state of overall relaxation, you will be able to sleep better and deal with your everyday issues with less stress. Calmness and feeling internally still promote our immune function, lowers our cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, but it also reduces fatigue, and anxiety, and increases our attention and focus, while also giving us clarity of thinking and perception. All of this only reinforces why it’s so important to slow down and live in the moment.
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