Mindfulness is a hot topic right now and for a good reason. Mindfulness has been shown to have a range of benefits and can improve your physical, mental and emotional health.
Whether you want to practice mindfulness to help you more easily deal with stress or to help you live a more positive life, you’re likely to have lots of questions – that’s great, and the reason I developed this post!
Here are some answers to the most common questions people have about mindfulness.
- How do I “practice mindfulness”?
The short answer? You can practice mindfulness and / or meditation in the way that suits you and your lifestyle best – and no, they are not the same thing! Some people enjoy traditional meditation, sitting in silence on a cushion. Other people use guided meditations on their smartphones or computers, and still others (I am among them) enjoy walking meditations that combine a sense of mindfulness (intentional activity) with a peaceful, positive setting that makes you happier just to be there.
It’s important – and easier than you might think – to integrate mindfulness into your everyday activities, taking the time be genuinely aware of the present moment. You can practice mindfulness while biking, running, walking your dog, etc. The best way to practice mindfulness is the way that feels right to you.
- How do I breathe properly during my mindfulness practice?
You may feel like you should “force” your breath into some pattern or control it in some way, such as trying to slow it down or take really deep breaths, but that’s really not necessary. It’s best just to feel and experience your breath.
As you begin to relax, your breathing will naturally slow down and regulate on its own. Try not to judge yourself for not doing it ‘right.’ Don’t try to control or channel your breath, just keep observing and allowing. Simply let the breath breathe you.
- How do I stop my mind from wandering?
If you find a way, please drop me a note and let me know! It’s natural for your mind to wander or for you to be distracted. Our minds think – that’s just what they do! Even very experienced mindfulness practitioners have wandering minds! Everyone does!
Most of us spend our days worrying about the future or brooding over the past. We don’t often stay in the present, but it is the way to inner peace and calm.
Be kind to yourself and don’t judge your mind or beat yourself up for falling back into familiar patterns of thinking. Gently bring your attention back to the present and use your breath to keep bringing your attention back to focus on the here and now. With consistent practice, you’ll find it gets easier and easier.
- How do I find the time for mindfulness?
This one’s easy! You don’t have to set aside special time to bring mindfulness into your life. In fact, you can enhance a formal meditation time (if you have one or would like to develop one) by integrating mindfulness practice wherever you are.
You can use these prompts throughout the day to return your attention to the present moment and take some deep conscious breaths:
- In the shower (hopefully relaxing in the warmth)
- During your daily commute (especially on mass transit)
- Waiting in line, or for an elevator, or for a meeting to start
- Before you start your car
- While you’re booting up your computer or opening your inbox
- While you’re waiting for your coffee
- Before answering the phone
Take advantage of all these ‘lost moments’ in your day to turn them into mindful moments, and bring the benefits of mindfulness into your daily life and activities.