A Brief Intro to Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a pretty trendy word right now. And it's well deserved! Google it and you will find loads of research and personal stories of how mindfulness changes people's lives. Mindfulness simply means being present in the moment. It means letting go of yesterday and tomorrow, and simply living and being right now. Because when you think about it, right now is all that you really have.
So how do you do it? I've found that it's best to start small. Work on being mindful when you are doing other things. Say you are eating breakfast. Use your senses and pay attention to that specific moment. What does your food taste like? Feel like? Smell like? Look like? How does your body feel? Notice your breathing. Take long deep breaths. Breathing is a great tool to calm your body and channel your mind. Try not to get discouraged when your mind wanders. It will. Let me repeat that...your mind WILL wander. The "exercise" of mindfulness is bringing your thoughts back to the present. Doing this every single time that your mind wanders is what mindfulness is all about. It's like a bicep curl for your brain. Just like with actual weights, the more you lift that weight, the quicker and easier it will become because your muscles will grow to accommodate it. This practice will get easier over time. Just like the first time you lift a 20lb weight might feel too heavy and last barely a second. When you practice that skill over and over eventually you'll have biceps of steel (maybe, consult your fitness guru on that one). It's the same idea with your brain + mindfulness.
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So, why does this matter? Well, to make a bold claim, if you are being mindful, then anxiety cannot exist. If you tend to be an anxious person, being in the present moment will eliminate anxiety for you in that specific moment. Sure, it may come back in 5 seconds, but for the moments that you are consciously focusing your mental energy on the present, thoughts and fears about the future cannot be there. You will notice thoughts creeping in, distracting you from your moment of mindfulness. This is normal. What's important is to notice the thought, acknowledge that it is there, and then let it go, and return to your present moment. The more that you practice having these mindful moments, the more you can control your anxiety overall.
So in short, practicing mindfulness is worth it. Not just for anxiety, but also for general happiness and humanness. Take a look around the room that you're sitting in. Really remind yourself where you are and take deep breaths. The more you practice it the more benefits you will notice. Make a routine out of it to really train your brain!