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Find your Zen by practicing mindfulness

positive mind Inhale … Exhale … Feeling less frazzled already? If you continue to find yourself in a constant state of stress and in desperate need of relaxation, you may benefit from taking some time for yourself and practicing mindfulness. Mindful living is about living in the moment, slowing down and paying attention to your mind and body.

Why practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been shown in numerous studies to improve mental health. Mindfulness can:

Reduce stress. Worry less by taking some time to yourself each week. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), those who practice mindfulness report reduced anxiety levels, depression and rumination (continued worrying about a stressor).

Boost memory. Need help remembering dates, names and more? Participants in a high-stress situation who practiced mindfulness over an eight-week period increased their working memory capacity, according to research cited by the APA.

Improve cognition. Practicing mindfulness through meditation may help you clear your mind and improve your focus. Research published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition determined that even brief meditation training could enhance one’s ability to sustain attention.

How do you get started?
Mindfulness is about finding time to notice yourself, your body and your thoughts. To begin with this simple meditation, you’ll focus on three key ideas: your body, breath and thoughts:

  • Find a quiet place to relax. Often, this can be in the corner of a quiet room. Be sure to limit your distractions, such as phones, TVs and pets.
  • Sit up straight on a sturdy chair or firm pillow. Wobbly seats can be a distraction! 
  • Keep your eyes open. Let your eyes rest wherever your gaze takes you.
  • Focus on your breath. Try not to control or improve the way you are breathing, but notice how you are.
  • Allow your mind to wander. Meditation isn’t about erasing thoughts, but the awareness of thoughts. If you hear a bird singing or clock ticking, or catch yourself making a list in your head, bring your thoughts back to your breath and note that “thinking has just occurred.”

If you’re curious about other ways to practice mindfulness and meditation, talk to your provider. He or she can guide you toward the best practices to target your stressors.