By: Jacquelyn Ikonomov
The term mindfulness has been used to refer to a ‘heightened psychological state of awareness’. There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Researchers have identified numerous benefits to incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Some mindfulness benefits include: reduced depressive symptoms, less stress, improved memory, improved focus, less emotional reactivity (in other words, you are less snappy), increased satisfaction with one’s relationships, increased happiness, and more.
When you are mindful of your thoughts, emotions, body, and surroundings; you will begin to find that the grass is greener where you water it, rather than on the other side.
There is a plethora of mindfulness tools and techniques available in books, articles. Even a quick google search will return many ideas for mindfulness. I recommend starting small and trying one or two of the twelve exercises provided below, for one or two minutes at a time. To get the most out of your mindfulness practice pick one or two exercises you enjoy and make a habit of performing them on a regular basis.
Having a morning routine provides a stable foundation for the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do for your morning routine, rather it matters that what you do slows down your thinking and provides peace. Creating an intentional morning routine will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, reactive, or that your day is out-of-control. There is no one morning practice that is best for everyone. Below are a handful of common tools Nuuaria recommends for brain training and to slow the momentum of your thoughts. Try each of the tools below to see which ones you enjoy most.
The soothing sensory experience of taking a shower makes for an ideal environment that cleanses not only your body, but also the thinking mind. On a smaller scale you can apply this technique while you wash your hands or wash the dishes too. Below is a general guide to this practice.
For those who feel they never have enough time, waiting on others can be quite frustrating. Waiting for someone or something is actually a great opportunity to sit in stillness and monitor all around you. Maybe you are waiting for a zoom call to start, use this opportunity to look around and explore as though it was your first time being in the room. Maybe you are waiting in a coffee shop, use this opportunity to listen to the sounds of the people and the cups clinking. In every moment of waiting, lies an opportunity to notice your surroundings with all your senses.
We experience less-than-desired emotions when we are too much in our head and not centered in our hearts and world. You can feel more peace when using these two techniques from the earth.
Nuuaria clients often have to unlearn far more things than they learn new, especially when enrolled in one of our Weight Loss Programs. This is because many of us grew up learning bad eating habits which make us less mindful about what we consume. Because of this, people often struggle with distinguishing genuine hunger cues from boredom or other negative emotions. Below are three ways you can practice more mindfulness while you eat and drink.
Mindful coloring asks us to focus on how we choose and apply color to a design, which brings our awareness to the present moment. This process is similar to meditation, we let go of any thoughts about tomorrow or yesterday, or what we are going to do when we finish. Focus solely on the patterns, the colors, and motor skills needed while filling in a mandala coloring page.
There is an area of your brain called the Reticular Activating System also called the RAS. The RAS’s job is to make you aware of anything out of the ordinary, designed to keep you alive and safe. A low-activated RAS may feel as though you are in autopilot. You can activate your RAS and be more mindful by shaping your environment. Change the order of your phone apps regularly, triggering the need to stop and think about your next action.
You can also become more mindful by eliminating the clutter in your environment. Every item should have a purpose. Donate items around the house that no longer serve you, thank them for what they offered, and provide them a new journey with someone for whom it is more valuable.
To practice mindful listening, I turn on my favorite calming music, or some nature sounds. The hardest part of this practice is that you may find yourself trying to control the sounds or finding patterns in what you hear. Surrender to the sounds and let the sounds flow as they do. Your one and only job during this practice is to bring your wondering thoughts back to the sounds.
Mindful conversation is about being fully present in a conversation. When engaged on a mindful conversation, your whole attention is concentrated in what the speaker is saying. To do this you must unplug from electronics, remove yourself from distractions, and practice listening without the need to interject your own opinions.
The body scan is a very effective way to begin a mindfulness meditation practice. During a body scan, focus your attention on the sensations of your body. Starting at your toes and working your way up to the crown of your head, feel any sensations without judgement.
My favorite way to focus my attention on each body part is by closing my eyes and imagining a warm, yellow glow surrounding each area. If I feel any pain, I allow the warm, yellow glow to melt away any tension in the area. This practice is very relaxing and a great way to slow the momentum of your thoughts.
Sitting or lying still is not the only way to be mindful. If you find it difficult to remain motionless, I recommend mindful walking. While on the walk, it is important to focus your attention on one thing rather than letting your mind wander. There are hundreds of things to direct your attention to when walking outside. Focus your attention by:
Make a game out of it and try to find as many objects of a specific color as you can or look for things that all starts with a certain letter of the alphabet. There is a wide variety of things to focus on, it really doesn’t matter which one you pick as long as you pick one. When your mind wanders, simply bring it back to that one thing.
I saved the fan favorite for last. The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing is meant to help you use your diaphragm correctly while breathing. Lie on your back on a flat surface, with your knees bent and your head supported. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. You can practice this exercise for 5-10 minutes a few times a day to be more mindful throughout your day.
There is no one, right, way to practice being mindful. These twelve fun mindfulness exercises are not the only mindfulness exercises out there, so find ones that work best for you. I encourage you to try each of them like a tasting platter. Start with a small bite and see how it makes you feel. If you enjoy one or two of these practices, build these into a daily routine and build up the time and frequency of these exercise until it becomes a habit.
If you find yourself needing accountability or help integrating these practices into your life, know that Nuuaria is here to help. Our mentors are trained in stress reduction and thought redirection techniques. For more information on our Stress Reduction Program, which is Accredited by the American Institute of Stress, or mentorship, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.