What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of mind of being fully present and embodying the current moment. It shifts someone’s center from worrying about the future or dwelling part mistakes to engaging in the here and now. Practicing mindfulness utilizes techniques to pull one away from their racing thoughts to the positive present.
Where do I begin?
Firstly, it is important to understand the types of concerns you have. Are you someone who is constantly anxious about the future? Do you experience intrusive thoughts that cause you to worry about your own actions or dozens of fearful possibilities? Or are you someone who keeps replaying the past and wishing you’ve done or said something different? Or maybe you’re a bit of both.
Also it’s important to understand your triggers for these thoughts as well. You may feel these thoughts after conversation about high school or when you give a presentation.
When you understand your triggers, you know when to utilize the mindfulness techniques. Using them at the right time will increase the effectiveness of the practices.
A Mindfulness technique that is easy for beginners is called the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. When you are feeling anxious or notice your negative thoughts are starting to overwhelm you and bring you down, mentally take note of the following
Name 5 things that you can see around you
Name 4 things that you can hear
Name 3 things that you can feel
Name 2 things that you can smell
Name 1 thing that you can taste
The time it takes you to notice these things around you should calm your racing thoughts and ease your anxiety. This also helps you stay present in the moment by shifting your thoughts to what your currents senses can see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Take in the space around you and notice the little things that are in your presence.
If your thoughts are very consuming or your anxiety is intense, it may help to verbally name the things you are noticing. This helps center your awareness to the exercise you are performing.
Like any skill, these exercises get easier the more you practice them. They can also be more effective in tackling bigger emotions when you’ve been practicing them in lesser intense moments.
Another Mindfulness that can be easier for beginners is noticing your body and sensations during a quiet activity.
While you have a few minutes to yourself, close your eyes and notice all the physical sensations your body is experiencing. For example:
Take note of the sound of your breath
Notice your heart rate
Any tensions in your body
Move the tension in your body and relax it.
If you experience distractions, notice them, allow them in and then allow them to pass
Recap Step-by-Step For Mindfulness for Beginners
- Understand what Mindfulness is
- Know your triggers and what types of thoughts you have
- Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise
- Practice noticing body sensations
- Repeat exercises and practice more advance mindfulness exercises when you feel comfortable