Why Should You Begin a Mindfulness Practice?
Beginning a mindfulness practice doesn't have to be difficult. We often hear mindfulness and meditation used together, but they are not the same thing. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but there are many others. Mindfulness practice helps us regulate our emotions, make wise decisions, and promote good mental and physical health. Let's explore all the reasons you should begin a mindfulness practice.
What Is Mindfulness? Why Is a Mindfulness Practice Important?
A mindfulness practice reminds you to be aware of the present moment. Mindfulness is a state of awareness. When we are mindful, we are aware of our environment, our feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. When we are mindfully aware, we are curious, and we take the time to understand our internal and external experiences.
Why is mindfulness important? When we are aware, we are in control of ourselves, and we are better able to take care of ourselves and others in stressful situations. Let me give you an example. If you and your boss are having a disagreement and you are mindful, you are better able to regulate your physical and emotional response to the stress, and you are more likely to say and do things that are helpful to you.
On the other hand, if you are unaware or mindless in the interaction, your racing heart and anxiety might take over. You may begin to cry or yell or clam up completely. In this situation, a lack of mindfulness may contribute to an unfavorable outcome because you couldn't advocate for yourself appropriately.
How to Begin a Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness practice can teach you to slow yourself down in stressful situations so that you can be aware of everything around you and inside of you, and it takes time and practice. I spent so many years responding to stress with knee-jerk reactions that in the beginning, it felt impossible to pause and think before responding. What I found most helpful was practicing my mindfulness skills when I was not particularly distressed about anything.
I took mindful walks, where I worked to focus only on the present moment, noticing what I saw, smelled, heard, and felt physically in my body. I noticed the temperature on my skin, parts of my body that felt uncomfortable, and parts that felt good or neutral. Any time I drifted into thoughts that didn't have anything to do with my walk, I gently reminded myself to come back to the present moment. Even that was a challenge in the beginning, but over time, I got better at it.
How a Mindfulness Practice Can Improve Your Life
Practicing mindfulness in neutral moments helped me to feel more aware of myself and my environment in stressful moments. I learned to use the power of my mind to control my brain. That is, I got better at not allowing my thoughts to run away with me, but instead, to have control over what thoughts I give attention to and what urges I act on or not.
Ultimately, my mindfulness practice has helped me slow down my emotional and physiological responses when I get triggered and has improved my ability to control my emotions and behaviors. Check out my video below to learn my favorite tool for staying mindful in stressful situations.
Green, H. (2019, June 19). Why Should You Begin a Mindfulness Practice?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2019/6/why-should-you-begin-a-mindfulness-practice
Author: Heidi Green, Psy.D.
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