What is Mindfulness?

Right now, mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword. It’s everywhere – from schools, social media, TV, blogs and more. And despite it being something that is talked about a lot right now, lots of people from different cultures, races and religions have been practicing it for thousands of years all over the world.

This blog post aims to explore what mindfulness is, why it can be good for us, and exactly how to practice it in a way that feels right for you.

The definition of mindfulness

Do you ever feel like your mind is full? With thoughts, feelings, worries, fears and other things that can take up space in there? Does it feel like you are preoccupied with things that have happened in the past or things that may happen in the future?

If it sounds like you, you are not alone.

Feeling this way can be so overwhelming and affect your mood, sleep, appetite and general well-being.

So this is where the practice of mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness is the exercise of being in the now and being aware of what is going on around you – both outside and inside, without judging your thoughts and how you feel.

Doesn’t sound simple? But actually for some people it is not that easy.

Barriers that can prevent us from being in the now.

1. Time

We have such busy lives and busy minds that many people cannot see how anything else will fit into their day.

2. Doubt

Some people doubt that something as simple as being in the moment could work for them. Even if something does not work the first time, it can sometimes make people doubt its effectiveness.

3. Fear

For some, having busy lives, busy minds, and multiple distractions means they do not have to deal with “here and now,” which can sometimes feel like a scary place to be for all sorts of reasons.

What can mindfulness help with?

Mindfulness can help you with so many things, including:

  • Difficult feelings including anxiety, sadness or anger
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of concentration

Despite all these positive things, it is important to note that practicing mindfulness can also sometimes trigger difficult emotions. And so if you feel uncomfortable at some point, it’s OK to stop. It may also be something you need to practice or try a few times before you really know if it could work for you.

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What does science say about mindfulness?

Believe it or not, mindfulness can also have a really positive effect on the brain! Studies have shown that it can improve memory and concentration as well as the ability to solve problems more effectively.

So how do you train mindfulness?

We chatted with counselor, yoga teacher and mindfulness expert, Georgia, who gave us a great insight into mindfulness and some simple everyday ways to practice it.

“The great thing about practicing mindfulness is that it is available to us when we need it. There is no need for any special equipment, only ourselves. With busy lives (and phones!) We often forget to take a break. But mindfulness is a way to stop, notice and focus instead of out. This can help us calm our bodies and minds so that we eventually become less reactive to the world around us. “

According to Georgia, paying attention can be as simple as:

  • Focus your mind on an activity like drawing or coloring something.
  • Focusing your mind on your breathing (breathing in and saying, “I know, I’m breathing in” and then breathing out and saying to yourself “I know, I breathe out” is just one way to practice this on.
  • Notice things around the room you are in by using your senses (eg what can you see, smell, touch, etc.).

Important things to remember about mindfulness

  • It may require some practice. You may not get it the first time or even the second or third, but it’s okay, because as with most things, it can take some time.
  • Be sweet to yourself. Trying not to categorize your thoughts into “good” or “bad” can help you accept your thoughts instead of being overwhelmed by them.
  • Do what feels right for you. Mindfulness is not about what other people think or feel, it is about your own journey. If something does not feel right to you (including the suggestions here), you can stop at any time.

A simple mindfulness exercise to try

Georgia told us about a creative and simple mindfulness exercise that we thought you liked. We invite you to try it at a time that feels right for you.

Do not forget, if you do not have time now, but would like to try it later, you can always save this article in your favorites.

STEP 1:

Find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed (this can be your bedroom, living room, a quiet place at home or even an outdoor space).

STEP 2:

Take a few slow, deep breaths to relax your body and mind, and close your eyes if it feels right.

STEP 3:

Now I invite you to imagine that you are lying on the ground and staring up at the sky in a peaceful outdoor space.

STEP 4:

Imagine the vibrant colors of the sky and the large airy clouds floating by. Think of the colors and shapes you see gently hovering across the sky.

STEP 5:

Imagine that these clouds you see are actually your thoughts passing through your mind. As they float by, notice them and what they may be about, and then watch them float past and away from your sight.

STEP 6:

Now spend a minute thinking about the things that are passing through your mind in this moment.

STEP 7:

When a thought flows into your mind, just notice it, acknowledge that it is there, and allow it to flow past without judging, and try not to hold on to it while it flows away.

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You can do this activity as little or as long as you want. Do what feels right for you.

Want to integrate Mindfulness into your Lumio classroom? Kooth and Lumio have teamed up to bring you free, engaging, mental wellness lesson content for your classroom. Get started with the lessons below today:

The importance of kindness for 5.-8. grade

Get access to the free activity

The importance of kindness for 9.-12. grade

Get access to the free activity

For more on our partnership with Kooth, head over to Lumio X Kooth resources page.

William

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