Our minds are capable of whaaat???? That was my first reaction when I discovered what mindfulness can really do. At first, I was a bit skeptical. But here I give you 4 simple tips to experience the positive effects of mindfulness.
The list of benefits seemed too good to be true until I started reading actual scientific studies that showed real physiological changes that result from mindful practices.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is being fully present in the moment. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings and free from distraction or judgment.
As a coach, I used mindfulness through visualization to create body awareness and have athletes mentally tackle routines to increase consistency. It’s a tool that I have used throughout my coaching career for many years. Still, I never considered its application outside the realm of athletics.
I found throughout the pandemic, I became extra tired. I lacked patience, lacked motivation, couldn’t focus or remember things. I was stressed but unsure why, and small things would just set me off.
I was generally unsettled and just felt off. Looking into my options, I decided to revisit the idea of mindfulness.
Throughout the past year and a half, I began my journey into developing my ability to implement mindfulness personally, and my experience has been life-changing. I personally have noticed so many positive changes, but I feel my most significant change has been the ability to cope and be emotionally resilient.
Mindfulness meditation and yoga are great ways to achieve and practice mindfulness.
This takes practice and time.
I wanted faster results. So here are some things I would like to share with you that I found helpful along my journey that allowed me to instantly experience changes.
This is my quick go-to during any emotional state that I feel is going in the wrong direction such as anger, frustration, panic or anxiety attack to name a few.
I found breathing to be the most impactful, and results are quick and easy to do.
Give it a try: Take a small breath in and a very long breath out. As you breathe out, try to relax your face and body. I like to close my eyes. This greatly reduces the physical effects of my emotional state and gives the mind the ability to become more logical and less emotional. There are different types of breathing techniques. I find that this one worked the fasted and was easiest to do in the moment.
Click here to learn about deep breathing and other breathing techniques.
Being in the present
Another quick go-to is to be present in the moment. Sometimes our thoughts keep us wrapped up in the past or worried about the what-ifs of the future.
Bringing your awareness to the present can be done just by paying attention. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. This could be as simple as smelling the air and looking at a passing cloud or taking the time to really smell and taste what you are eating (mindful eating). This will also help you slow down and bring your mind to the present moment.
How often do we really pay attention to our food and what we eat? This one was a real eye-opener for me. When I finally did this, I realized I was missing out on great experiences just because I wasn’t present in the moment. It’s really easy to do. When you eat something, smell it and acknowledge what you smell. Then eat it. How does it feel in your mouth? Pay attention to the details such as temperature, texture, taste etc. I personally found that this allowed me to really appreciate what I was eating and get satisfaction from eating instead of it just being a task to get through. It also helped me slow down and stopped me from mindlessly shovelling food into my face.
You can also do things proactively to help keep you in the right state of mind, even from the moment you wake up. For me, this includes starting the day with a purpose. The unconscious brain is in charge of most of our decision-making and behaviours. These primal motivations include safety, such as fight or flight, but it is also responsible for incentives like a reward, connection, purpose, self-identity and core values.
To do this:
- Set your intentions for the day.
- Upon waking up, take a few deep breaths to get you grounded and present.
- State anything you feel is important.
This could include “today I will be kind to myself; be happy; be understanding of others.” Those are just examples, and it really is whatever YOU feel is necessary. To make sure this is effective as the day goes on, you must check in with yourself throughout the day. Stop for a moment, take a breath, and remember what intentions you set for yourself. As you become more conscious of your intentions, you will notice your mood, thoughts, and general well being will transform into a happier and healthy place.
Although these are just a few of many, I felt that these were the easiest to implement, giving me the fastest results. I hope what I have shared with you here will be helpful for you too. I would like to finish by sharing a quote that I found; even though the idea is simple, it deeply resonated with me.
“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.”Buddha