What is Mindfulness
Living with two elderly parents, both 86, both Gemini’s can be particularly tough. My mum has a real hard time getting around now. My step-father, well he really doesn’t have a clue. It can be very frustrating to say the least. I have found that if I practice mindfulness it helps to ease my stress, improve my mood and even helps me think more clearly.
I thought it might help you too if you prefer the natural self-help route too.
Being mindful means to bring your complete attention to the present, where you are right now. One of the great things about practicing mindfulness is that you can do it anywhere. But don’t worry, you don’t sit silent for hours, chant mantras, or even close your eyes!
I think everyone can benefit from practicing mindfulness, especially, in these worrisome times.
To practice mindfulness, you think only of what’s going on right here – and right now. It’s bringing yourself to a state where you’re not distracted by memories of the past or worries of the future.
Here’s a few great mindfulness tricks that you can use to stay grounded and present. It won’t matter what time it is or where you are.
You can use the 3 Breaths technique to firmly anchor your awareness in the present. It’s so easy you can do it right now while you’re reading this.
Simply bring your attention to your breath – breathe in slowly and gently, following the path of your breath with your mind.
Feel it deep in your belly. Then breathe out slowly and gently, again paying attention to the movement of your breath.
Can you feel a subtle energy shift, a calm peacefulness? That is how mindfulness feels.
You can do this anywhere at anytime. No one will even know that you’re practicing mindfulness.
Check in With Your Senses
This simple exercise will ground you in the present moment anytime you feel stressed or bothered.
When you find it a little tricky to access your inner peace or that your mind is distracted, try the 5 Senses Check-in. Make a conscious decision to disconnect from distractions and focus your awareness on what you can see, feel, hear, smell and taste.
Seize Opportunities to Practice Mindfulness
Take every opportunity, that comes your way, to practice mindfulness. It’s especially helpful when you start to feel frustrated or impatient.
Like when waiting in line or when you’re stuck in traffic.
Put a half-smile on your face and concentrate on your breath. Don’t try to control it. Let your breath breathe you. In no time, you’ll feel your frustration melting away.
Use Mindfulness to Create Space
Are you wondering how being conscious can create space? Here’s how it works. No matter how busy you are, use awareness as a stealth tactic to build some more space into your day.
For instance, before you send an email, take time to breathe and notice your breath, then read the email again and decide if you really want to send it.
As you’re walking along, look up and really notice the sky and the leaves on the trees. Are flowers budding or blooming? Do you hear birds chirping and singing?
Smile at others who pass by and notice their reactions.
Ignore or better yet, switch off your phone or tablet or whatever for a while.
Instead of jumping in with a reactive response, sit back and really listen when someone is talking to you. Give the other person your full attention and respect.
You’ll find yourself having a more meaningful and productive conversation.
Using Mindfulness to Get Happy
Being mindful isn’t only about feeling calm or helping you deal with stress. It will help you lift your spirits and become a happier person more of the time.
It’s easy to get stuck in a negative mindset and stay focused on the things that aren’t working in your life.
Your self-talk can become all about your weaknesses or failures. Negativity becomes your usual way of thinking.
Being aware can help you turn that around and get into a more positive thought pattern.
As a bonus, mindfulness has positive health benefits too. Practicing mindfulness helps to reduce stress and enhances your resilience and mental capacity.
Here are three ways mindfulness can help you shake the negativity spiral and put you into a happier state of mind.
Mindfulness Keeps You in the Now
You’ll refocus your attention on here and now instead of worrying about future problems or harping on past mistakes. Being thoughtful slows you down and reconnects you with what is happening at the moment. You will begin to notice and appreciate the good things that are in your life right now. Being mindful can also help you stop being reactive and instead be more aware in how you respond to people and situations.
Be More Connected
You’ll develop a deeper connection with yourself and with others. It gives you time and mental space to work out what matters to you, and what are your values and beliefs. You learn that happiness lies in knowing yourself and being comfortable with who you are.
And when you are your authentic self, you can connect honestly, openly and straightforwardly with other people. Relationships can become more profound and more heartfelt.
Mindfulness Enhances Contentment and Gratitude
One of the beautiful effects of mindfulness is you stop investing in outside things for your happiness. Money, external approval, worldly success, and possessions no longer hold power over your self-worth.
Becoming mindful will focus your attention on what you can control. Living an authentic life, attuned and aligned with your values encourages and supports your inner wellbeing.
Your happiness becomes self-sufficient.
Did you know that mindfulness not only helps keeping you calm and focused, but it can stimulate your creativity and open up your thinking too?
If you’re interested in reaching your creative potential, here’s how mindfulness can give you a boost.
Understanding the Creative Process
To understand how mindfulness can boost your creativity we have to understand the creative process. It can be a delicate synchronization of four steps:
- Information gathering and idea stimulation. This is the blue-sky stage where you research and fire off as many ideas as you can. Your brain needs to be in free-roaming mode here, with your cognitive control network paused to let you get on with it!
- Incubation. Once you have as many thoughts and ideas down on paper as you can, your brain can get on processing and mulling over options for the next stage.
- Stage three is inspiration. That Eureka moment when you make connections and get creative insights.
- The final stage is the verification or testing phase when your critical brain can analyze and evaluate.
Different parts of your brain dominate different stages of the creative process. Stage one relies on divergent thinking, which is freewheeling and non-critical.
The incubation stage is taken care of by the brain’s memory organization area. The inspiration is controlled by your brain’s salience network, which is basically an early warning system for great ideas and making good choices.
The verification stage is where you can allow the cognitive control network to get analyzing and critiquing.
But it’s essential to keep these phases in sequence and in balance. If any of these stages get side-lined, say if your Inner Critic jumps in at Stage one or two, your creative process is in danger of falling apart.
The Role of Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps with each stage of the creative process. It boosts divergent thinking necessary for brainstorming, it calms distracting thoughts allowing the incubation of all your brilliant ideas.
When you practice mindfulness, you also strengthen the salience network. That bright spark of creative insight won’t get lost in the crowd anymore.
Finally, mindfulness boosts cognitive function, helping you analyze and evaluate your project during the final phase of the creative process.
As well as assisting with the mechanics of the creative process, mindfulness meditation will help you develop self-compassion and non-judgment. Because not all creative projects work out, and that’s okay.
Mindfulness will help you develop insight into your own creative process and how you can reach your creative potential.
So, what have you got to lose? Practice mindfulness a few times each day. It only takes a minute, You won’t even have to stop doing what you’re doing. Give it a try, you just might be surprised at the difference it will make!
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