09 Sep Mindfulness: What is it and How to Practise it?
The world we live in today is one full of distractions. Technology and social media have fundamentally changed the way we live. One of the biggest outcomes of this is that the ability to fully be in the moment has drastically reduced. This in turn has huge implications for our mental health and overall well-being.
Surprising as it may seem, mindfulness is a tool that has immense benefits for our mental health. But first let us understand what exactly, is mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Simply put, ‘mindfulness’ refers to the state of being aware of the present moment and paying attention to sensory information that we are receiving in that moment. Mindfulness exercises for instance, encourage us to be fully aware of the input we are getting through the senses, ranging from temperature, sounds, smells, and pressure that different parts of the body may feel at that given moment.
When we become aware of the minutiae that we rarely pay dedicated attention to, it can help us feel alive and fully present in the moment. In this sense, mindfulness isn’t very far off from meditation practices.
Another quality of mindfulness practice is that, like in meditation, people are encouraged to have non-reactive or non-judgmental responses to the moment and the sensory inputs being perceived. Even if a certain sound is jarring or a certain sensation uncomfortable, participants are encouraged to notice such qualities but to try and avoid reacting negatively to them.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
When the unsettled mind is at play, we tend to start living in the story of the past or the imaginary future. Both the past and present are imagined and created narratives and mostly lead to stress, anxiety, worry, and other undesirable emotions. Mindfulness on the other hand allows us to be fully present in the moment and enjoy the here and the now.
Hence, when we practise mindfulness we escape from the worries and stresses that emanate from the memories of the past and the concerns of the future. It also enables us to listen more carefully and observe things better, rendering us more capable of making better decisions. This has the cumulative effect of reduced stress and a greater sense of abandon and lightheartedness.
How to practise mindfulness?
Practising mindfulness need not be restricted to specialised treatments. You can practise mindfulness effectively on your own.
Observing your body is the quickest way to be in the moment. Pay complete attention to and observe how your body feels in terms of sensations, tension, pain, discomfort, temperature, or pressure. Become fully aware of what you can smell, taste, hear, see, or touch. You can enhance your mindfulness practice by then focusing on one particular aspect. You may notice your attention wavering, but bring it back to what you have chosen to pay attention to.
You can also use calming music as a tool to help you concentrate and reconnect. It isn’t easy to bring your mind to focus on a particular thing for a long duration. Most people find music as an effective yet calming tool to relax and get their minds to focus. However, it is imperative to choose suitable music to be able to practise mindfulness. Instrumental or classical music are perfect for the job.
How can aromatherapy help with mindfulness?
Adding aromatherapy to your practise of mindfulness can yield excellent results. Aromatherapy engages the sense of smell in a variety of ways ranging from massages to taking in the aroma and benefits of essential oils by diffusion. Applying essential oils to the nape of the neck or wrist can also add to the experience. However, one must always dilute essential oils with carrier oils before applying them directly on the skin.
Essential oils with soothing properties such as Chamomile, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, and Lavender help induce a relaxed state. In contrast, essential oils such as Peppermint, Rosemary, and Basil have a more stimulating effect and make one more alert.
Mindfulness is an incredibly simple practice for leading a happier, more intentional, and stress-regulated life. Taking out a couple of minutes in your day to practise mindfulness can work wonders for your body, mind, and soul. Practice and persistence are all you need to have wholesome and energised days ahead. So go ahead and get started on this journey.