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What Is Mindfulness and Why Should I practice It?


Mindfulness is getting some serious buzz these days, and for good reason: research tells us that the practice of mindfulness provides a wealth of benefits, including reducing depression, mitigating stress, treating addiction, lowering inflammation, and boosting the immune system. And here’s another great thing about mindfulness: it’s not complicated. Everyone can incorporate mindfulness into their daily routine and begin to experience constructive shifts in their lives.

So what is mindfulness? When we are fully present, we can attune to the sensations of our bodies, suspending our judgment and accepting the moment for exactly what it is.

Here are a few ideas to help you with your mindfulness practice

1. Pause and connect to your senses for a few seconds. What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching? Acknowledge and accept what you feel.

2. Do one thing at a time. Ditch multitasking for a few minutes. Direct your mental, physical, and emotional attention towards one thing. If you’re folding laundry, for instance, approach the chore with a sense of wonder: how do the textures feel against your fingers? How do your arms feel as you repeatedly move them to manipulate the material? What feeling arises when you gaze on a neatly folded stack of towels?

3. Test out a meditation app. Meditation can be a highly effective method of practicing mindfulness. Several apps offer meditations with a wide range of lengths and themes—these can be a great way to get started and track your consistency.

4. Calm your mind by box breathing. Box breathing involves four simple steps: breathing in, holding the breath, breathing out, then holding the breath again. Visualize the steps of this practice as the four sides of a square box: breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds. Repeat several times.

5. Develop a gratitude practice. Create a gratitude habit at the beginning or end of every day. Try writing three things you’re thankful for or you can free journal about the highlights of your week.

Just a little reminder that people of all ages can benefit from mindfulness, particularly children. Mindfulness impacts brain development, specifically skills related to the functioning of the prefrontal cortex—think focus, self-regulation, and patience. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our roundup of 10 Books to Teach Your Children Mindfulness and leave us any thoughts or questions you may have about mindfulness in the comments below.

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