by Geri Walton ~ December 3rd, 2008
Mindfulness is not a religion or a spiritual practice, although it can be associated with both. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention and be in the moment, and it has become popular because of the health benefits associated with it. It alleviates stress, reduces tension, and encourages calmness. Most importantly, when regularly practiced, it improves your quality of life, and, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of ways to achieve mindfulness on a daily basis.
To be mindful, means to be non-judgmental and observe without criticism. The best way to accomplish mindfulness is to imagine yourself as an impartial observer with no agenda. All you do is watch what happens, see your thoughts, let them go, and return your focus to your practice. To begin, pick one of the following six techniques and then practice the technique, as that is key to achieving mindfulness.
- Eating Meditation. Because everyone has to eat, you should have plenty of opportunities to be mindful. Accomplish this technique by focusing on how you raise your utensils to your mouth, how the food feels against your tongue, the texture of the food, and so forth.
- Follow Your Breath. Following your breath allows you to be in the moment and be present. It’s so simple to do because all you do is concentrate on your breathing, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are doing it right. Just follow your breath.
- Guided Meditation. Guided meditation is a good way to let go of the outside world and focus on gratitude and healing. There are numerous guided DVD meditations available, but here’s one of my favorites, Living Meditation: Guided Meditations.
- Mindful Yoga. You can actually chose any type of physical yoga, but to perform mindful yoga, you focus on each pose, and ask questions such as, Am I performing the movement correctly?, Is my hand in the right position?, Is there tension in my neck?, and so forth. As you perform the poses, each time your mind wanders, you gently return it to your pose.
- Task-Oriented Mindfulness. Since many of us have chores and feel as though we have no time to be mindful, this technique is perfect. Find a chore or task, such as loading the dishwasher, shaving, or filing papers, and then concentrate on how you accomplish it.
- Walking Meditation. This technique is often used by Buddhists. All you do is keep your focus on the experience of walking but stay aware of the outside world so you don’t get run over by a car. Walk a little faster than you normally do, but think about each step. Focus on how you step, how you lift and lower your leg and foot, how you move forward, and how the ground feels under your feet.
To be mindful, means to be in powerful company. Sages of our time are incorporating mindful practices into their busy lives, and if the following well-respected people can find time for mindfulness, so can you.
- Joan Borysenko, PhD. Borysenko is a cancer cell biologist and licensed psychologist, as well as a New York Times bestseller with her book Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. In addition, she finds time to regularly practice and instruct meditation and yoga classes.
- Memhet Oz, MD. Oz is cardiac surgeon and frequent guest on Oprah. He practices forms of mindful yoga every morning.
- Martin L. Rossman, MD. Rossman is another physician. His Guided Imagery for Self-Healing Book and CD Set contains techniques he uses to connect with the world.