Mindfulness can be loosely defined as being aware of your thoughts and reactions. This has been shown to decrease rates of mental illness amongst practitioners, especially when combined with cognitive behavioural therapy. Mindfulness continues to gain support both in academic circles and among casual hobbyists. Here are 5 ways you can practice mindfulness on a day to day basis.
The core of mindful practice, which was originally developed by Buddhist monks, meditation has a foundational role in a mindfulness regime. When we meditate we notice all the various thoughts, reactions, and impressions that go through our minds. This identification allows us to better engage with our automatic responses, so that we can better regulate them when needed.
2. Notice emotional responses
Besides the more literal thoughts which pass through our heads, there’s also more subtle emotional responses to be considered. These emotions are often the most important aspect of our psychological makeups to pay attention to. Once we’ve noticed them, we can then try to change them to help ourselves.
3. Focus on your food
Besides literal thoughts and emotional responses, physical sensations are another good thing to focus on. Focusing on flavours allow us to enjoy our meals more, and teach us to remain psychologically vigilant about anything which stimulates us.
4. Notice small things
One of the most important aspects of mindfulness is discriminating between thoughts we want and those we don’t. Try to notice small things that make you smile, no matter how minor, and take a moment to appreciate them. If there are small things you don’t like, try to find the bright side then ignore them. This trains you into positive thinking and makes long-term happiness more likely.
5. Think about your thinking
Mindfulness at its core is all about analyzing your thoughts and how they impact you. If we think about how we’re thinking, and recognize which thoughts are useful, versus which thoughts are holding us back or just wasting our time, we’re able to better distinguish which styles of thinking we ought to be engaging with more regularly.
Mindfulness involves reducing the amount of automatic thoughts we’re subjected to. We need to strive against the knee-jerk reactions which can often be counter-productive to our happiness. Mindful training doesn’t take long, it just takes effort, as we monitor everything that happens to us, and more importantly, how we respond.