Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening in the present, moment-by-moment, without making judgments about what we notice. Mindfulness meditation practice is a key ingredient in a variety of therapies.
Why practice mindfulness?
Our minds can focus on things in the past, present or future. We often find ourselves thinking about things that happened in the past or worrying about things that could happen in the future, which can cause stress. Mindfulness encourages us to “be in the present moment.” There’s evidence that practicing mindfulness can help people cope with depression and anxiety, pain and chronic illness.
What does it mean to have a non-judgmental attitude?
Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Making judgments about our own experiences can lead us to becoming quite upset. For example, thoughts such as “this is horrible” or “I can’t take anymore” are both judgments associated with distress. Practicing mindfulness teaches us to accept more of our experience without judging it. This has been shown to help people live more fulfilling lives.
Taking deep breaths can help create a sense of calm and contentment. When people experience anxiety, they take quick, shallow breaths. When feeling calm, breathing slows, and blood pressure and heart rate drops.
Try belly breathing when experiencing a stressful situation such as waiting at the doctor’s office.
- Sit upright with shoulders relaxed
- Take one regular breath and notice where it goes: into the chest or abdomen
- Breathe in through the nose and imagine the air filling the abdomen
- Breathe out
- On your next few breaths, increase the rise of the belly while breathing in more deeply
- Repeat as many times as desired.
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