How To: Easy Mindfulness

There is an art to being "present" especially in a stressed-out culture of distractions, hyper-productivity and social media, however you can learn to think differently and even rewire your brain. Many therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists prescribe Mindfulness and MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) to help cope with anxiety and depression. What is the goal with mindfulness meditation? To learn to give your attention fully to whatever you may be doing -- eating, loving, working, parenting, exercising, doing chores, as examples -- its application is limitless, and it may very well be the key to your survival, good health and emotional well-being. 

It's easy. Heres how to begin:

  1. Find a comfortable seat. Keep your back straight, soften and drop your shoulders. You can close your eyes, or keep them open. Take a deep breath.
  2. Notice your breathing, without changing it. Focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils, notice your lungs expanding and contracting.
  3. You will have thoughts that distract you from your focus on breathing. Acknowledge these thoughts and then return your focus to your breathing. Keep doing this.
  4. Don't judge yourself, simply notice any distractions, sounds in the environment and that the mind wants to wander.  A new thought comes into your mind, notice it, then return to your breathing. (adaptation from Full Catastrophe Living

Do this 10 short minutes per day. If you enjoy technology, or you just need a little supported guidance, many of my clients prefer to use one of the many apps found on iTunes or Google Play. One of my personal favorites is an app called Headspace, developed by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, it is a simple and elegant way to learn. Watch Andy Puddicombe teaching "doing nothing" on TedSalon.

Interesting in learning more about the benefits of Mindfulness? Empirically supported benefits of mindfulness include:

  • reduced anxiety and rumination
  • decreased negative affect and depression
  • decreased somatic distress 
  • reduces psychological distress
  • boosts to working memory
  • increases attention span
  • less emotional reactivity
  • increases cognitive flexibility
  • enhances relationship satisfaction
  • enhances self-awareness
  • improves immune functioning 
  • increases information processing speed 
  • improves social relationships
  • increases happiness and well-being
  • increases empathy and compassion