When we face challenges in life, we can get caught in a cycle of anxious thoughts about things we can’t control. Mindfulness refocuses your attention on what you can control, by connecting with your body, mind, and present experience. By practicing mindful living habits, we can discover more happiness, joy, and meaning in our lives.
Mindfulness is a practice in which you pay close attention to what is being experienced in the present, focusing on being intensively aware of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment, both inside the body and mind, and in the external world without judging or interpreting your thoughts and feelings as good or bad. By practicing mindfulness, you are not only building a self-care routine but also benefitting your mind and body.
One way to practice Mindfulness is the Mindful STOP technique. This material was developed in partnership with Alberta Mind Biotech for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can practice Mindful STOP anytime, anywhere. Simply quiet your mind and listen to the audio track.
To get started, find your first language in the list of audio recordings on the right, then click play.
It is important to set an intention to practice mindfulness as regularly as possible. Return regularly to your practice without judging yourself if you forget or miss a day. A regular practice can be encouraged by setting a genuine intention.
Choose a space that is calm, quiet, and peaceful to practice mindfulness. Pick a time that you will not be interrupted or distracted. Create a beautiful environment, find the right place in your house or outdoor with comfortable light, sound and temperature levels and reserve this space for your daily mindfulness practice. Sit down comfortably on a chair or cushion and bring awareness to your body that it is time to calm down and be mindful.
In this busy world, it is challenging to slow down and observe your moment-to-moment experience. Try to notice external sensations such as sounds, touch, sights, taste, and smell and by doing this, aim to focus on what comes and goes into your mind without latching onto the emotions and sensations of thoughts about the past or the future. Pay attention to the present moment, try to discover which mental tendencies causes a feeling of well-being or suffering.
Close your eyes, take strong, deep, slow breaths; focus, and feel your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Make sure your belly is up as the breath comes in, and goes down as the breath leaves you. If random thoughts come and make your mind wander, acknowledge those, and let them go and gently get back focus on your breathing. Though challenging, this practice makes you feel that whatever happens in life journey, just let it be and let it go.
While practising mindfulness, be present in your own life by not letting your mind get caught up in thinking about the past or the future—live in the now. Consider that all you have is this moment, and it is vital to live in the present moment. Find joy in simple pleasures of the present moment and try deliberately to bring an open, accepting, and discerning attention to everything you do.
You cannot always wait for the times when you can sit quietly to practice mindfulness. Make any time during a day or a moment you find in a day when you remember to pause before responding or when you can concentrate on your sense of breathing, as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. This habit also allows you to be regular in this practice and make these mindful moments a context of your daily life.
It is important to be kind with yourself if you are new to mindfulness. You may notice your mind tends to wander to other places, push hard against your attempts to bring it to the present and your attention tends to leave the sensations of the breath. Simply return your attention to the breath, do not judge your mind for wandering and come back to a mindful state.
Find an encouragement and combine your practice with it or something you will not forget to do. For example, practice before morning breakfast, or on the way to your workplace or right before you sleep. With time and commitment, you will come to discover the joy of mindfulness, crave spending your time for it and to make it a daily practice.You can also practice with a friend or colleague which can help you stay motivated.
This is a simple but effective way to get yourself mindful mood and get in touch with your body.
Lie on your back with your legs stretched out and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Take a few deep, mindful breaths focusing your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in an order, from toe to head or head to toe.
Observe the way your breath enters and leaves from your lungs, focus your attention on one part of your body at a time and be aware of any thoughts, emotions and sensations associated with each part of your body. Try taking a few minutes every morning to scan your body which can also help you notice when your body is feeling differently than usual.
While we tend to eat automatically while doing other things such as watching television, reading, chatting, and scrolling in internet, mindful eating enables us to maintain an in-the-moment awareness of the food and experience of eating without any external thoughts and distractions.
Touch and smell the food and observe how the food makes you feel along with sensing the signals your body sends about taste, satisfaction, and fullness. Without focusing on other people, their conversation, and other random thoughts about future, be fully present as you eat and let go of guilt, sadness, or any temptation to judge your thoughts or feelings.
This practice can also extend to the process of buying, preparing, and serving your food as well as consuming it.
To take a mindful walk, give your full attention to the experience of walking. Find a quiet place of at least 10 to 20 feet in length, take advantage of the natural beauty around, engage all your senses and stay aware of what is happening both around you and within you.
Focus on the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance and feel the ground beneath you as you walk. Engage your senses as you do this, feel each inhale and exhale, listen to all the sounds surrounding you, and be aware of what is happening in each moment your feet hit the ground with each step.
Practicing mindfulness exercises (which are also a type of meditation) can help you direct your attention away from the concerns that disturb your mind and engage with the world around you. Mindfulness can be a tool to avoid self-criticism and judgment by helping you shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations towards an appreciation of the moment, while identifying and managing difficult emotions.
You may be suffering from emotional drain due to pandemic-related stressors such as lockdown, quarantine, and social distancing. We are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming, causing strong emotions in adults and children. Though these public health actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they also can make us feel lonely and isolated and can increase stress and anxiety. While spending too much time planning, problem-solving, or thinking negative, it can have direct and indirect effects on physical and mental health leading you to go through symptoms of depression.
Behavioural health providers studied Mindfulness in many clinical trials, and the overall evidence supports its effectiveness for various conditions, including stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure (hypertension), etc. Preliminary research also indicates that it can help you experience thoughts and emotions with greater balance and acceptance by reducing stress, boosting memory and focus, reducing emotional reactivity, lessening job burnout, and improving cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, sound sleep and diabetes control. Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
It may seem challenging at the beginning, but it is also easy to fall into the habitual processes of thinking, feeling, and doing through the lens mindfulness. Without any external disturbances interrupting each moment, it lets you experience fulfillment by connecting the whole of your senses throughout the day. Remember, by practicing mindfulness and acknowledging your past, you are not only being in the present, but you are additionally creating the best possible future for yourself.