Mindfulness: the complete guide for mindfulness
We are all quite aware of the importance of exercise to keep the body healthy. But many times we forget that the mind must also train, just like the muscles. With the right tools, it is possible to improve mental processes, which implies, among many other benefits, to live more calmly and with less stress.
One of these tools to train the mind is the mindfulness or mindfulness. In this article we tell you everything you need to know about it, and how to start incorporating it into your life in a simple way. You will see that with very little time and with simple tools you can improve your life remarkably.
What is Mindfulness or Mindfulness?
Saying that sounds great, but if it were that easy, everyone would do it and you would not be reading this, would you? It happens that the rhythm of life that we lead today is completely contrary to mindfulness.
We live running, full of responsibilities, with few hours to rest or little time to take care of ourselves. In addition, overinformation means that we are receiving stimuli permanently.
In other words, the current pace of life has always worried us.
The practice of Mindfulness is a kind of antidote to this rhythm of life. Allows focusing on the present with all the senses. And understand that the only thing that exists is the here and now.
There are many exercises you can perform to incorporate mindfulness into your life, like the ones we picked up in this article. In order for them to make a real change in your life, you must understand that the practice of Mindfulness must become a habit.
Think of the mind as a muscle. If you lift weights for a single day, your muscles will not see big changes. But if you take 10 minutes every day, over time you have multiplied the strength of your arms.
The same thing happens with Mindfulness. More than a group of exercises, mindfulness is a state of mind that is achieved through practice.
The mindfulness in the West
In the 70s, Jon Kabat-Zinn brought the concept of Mindfulness to Western society and, since then, has not stopped growing and gaining followers. This renowned doctor, professor and writer not only discovered through yoga and the studies of the Buddhist religion what mindfulness was. He also took care to merge this practice with the traditional medicine of the West.
Thus, in the last few years hundreds of studies have been emerging that investigate mindfulness scientifically, demonstrating its health benefits in all aspects.
In this video you will see a summary of one of Kabat-Zinn's first books on the subject, which led him to the Best-Sellers list but, more importantly, he installed the concept on this side of the world:
(You may also be interested in: Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Practice of Mindfulness (Audiobook))
Mindfulness and its relationship with meditation
Many times mindfulness and meditation are confused, since both concepts are intimately related although they are not the same. We could say, first of all, that traditional meditation has a religious character. Mindfulness does not: it is a rather pragmatic tool that allows us to improve our way of life.
So we could say that mindfulness uses meditation as an instrument to achieve other goals.
Benefits of mindfulness
As we said before, the usual practice of mindfulness is a way to train our mind and our thoughts. It is exercise for the brain, and also for emotions. But also, since our whole body is linked to the brain and emotions, mindfulness also has physical and social benefits.
In recent decades, hundreds of scientific studies have shown that this practice can completely change people's lives. These are the seven most notable benefits:
- 1. Help control stress and anxiety
This is perhaps the first and most important benefit of mindfulness. At present, stress and anxiety are an epidemic: almost half of the population suffers or has suffered the consequences of these problems. Especially in the cities and western countries.
The practice of Mindfulness reduces the levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress. This makes us feel more relaxed and less anxious.
- 2. End the insomnia problems
According to an article published by Harvard University, mindfulness is also an excellent tool to overcome insomnia. By having more control over emotions and thoughts, they are less likely to invade us at night. With which, it rests much better.
Added to the reduction of stress, mindfulness is perfect to sleep more and have a better quality of sleep.
Keep in mind that stress can trigger many physical reactions. Outbreaks of psoriasis or other skin problems, headaches, increased blood pressure, upset stomach and many more.
When we manage to noticeably reduce the state of permanent tension, we discover that we feel much better not only from the emotional point of view, but also physically.
- 4. Improves the ability to concentrate
The famous multitasking, and the amount of permanent stimuli -mobile notifications, street advertising, noise, Internet- make it hard for us to concentrate. We live a bit on autopilot, and that leads to many problems: greater difficulty studying, learning new things, doing homework, etc.
The practice of mindfulness helps to reverse this situation and improve the way we focus on everyday tasks.
- 5. Help recover from addictive behaviors
Mindfulness has as one of its main objectives to make you aware of yourself. That includes being more aware of one's own desires and needs, but also learning to control them.
When you are recovering from addictions, awareness is essential. Many studies in the field of medicine have shown that using mindfulness as a complement to the recovery treatment of addicts is very efficient.
Interpersonal relationships require attention. Think about how much it bothers you that they do phubbing (or that they ignore you by looking at the phone). It has been shown that the usual practice of mindfulness allows us to improve relationships with others for a very simple reason: it helps to enjoy the timeshare sincerely.
When you practice this technique, you learn to live each moment without thinking about something else. And believe me, that is something that is valued very much.
- 7. Improve memory
Think a second about this: you are more likely to remember the details of a great adventure, such as a trip, than what you were doing two days ago at this time. Even though the trip you did years ago.
That's because when you're on vacation, or living something important, you pay more attention. Being aware of what is happening around you is the best way to remember it. That's why mindfulness also helps improve memory.
How to start practicing Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness can be synthesized with "four R":
- Rest the attention (the mind) on an anchor.
- Recognize when and where you wander.
- Return the attention gently to the anchor.
That anchor can be breathing, or it can be something else. For example, as the psychologist Úrsula Perona explains in the following video, it may be the sounds or the sensations when eating. Whatever your "anchor", the exercise of mindfulness has to do, logically, with paying attention.
You can also choose to do guided meditations, especially designed to develop mindfulness. The good thing about this type of exercises is that they are practical, usually short, and help you to better understand which aspects to pay attention to.
If you start practicing them regularly, then it will be easier to transfer them to your day to day. Here we leave one for you to try:
Simple actions to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life
If you want mindfulness to become part of your daily life, there are many small actions you can take every day. In addition to performing the exercises previously proposed, you can also try to make the habit of performing these small actions.
(You may also be interested: 7 Keys to perform mindfulness in intimacy with your partner)
- Take note of your thoughts
Always have a notebook and a pen handy. When a thought or an emotion begins to go round and round in your head, take a minute. That simple action will help you to be aware of what that thought really means. This way you can give it the dimension that corresponds to it.
- Eat consciously
Many times we eat more simply because we do not pay attention. If you learn to enjoy each bite fully, you will discover that you not only eat less, but also that you enjoy it twice as much.
(You may also be interested: What is intuitive eating and how is it practiced?)
- Do different things
- Walk actively
Walking can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Be aware of your steps when you do it, of how your muscles react to movement, of your entire body. It can also serve yoga, swimming, or any physical exercise.
If you want more easy exercises to apply mindfulness in your daily life, you can find them in this link.
- Keep studying and practicing
A good place to start is the audiobook "The practice of mindfulness", where the author Jon Kabat Zinn shows us an intelligent fusion between science, poetry and spirituality, focusing on the transforming power of mindfulness in life daily, both at an intimately personal level as well as at a more social level.
Jon describes how to confer true value to the present moment with the practice of meditation. In addition, you will learn how to cope with stress and pain through mindfulness in meditation.
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What do you think about this mindfulness guide? Would you like to start practicing mindfulness?
Psychology and mind