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Everyday Mindfulness Practices

Have you heard of the term mindfulness yet?

If you have, chances are you’re actively practicing and reaping the benefits of mindfulness already! If you are hearing of this for the first time here, well – let’s unpack and explore 😊



What is Mindfulness?

Many people have different definitions for it, and we’ve included a few of them below:


  • According to the American Psychological Association (n.d.), this noun means,

awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings. The concept has been applied to various therapeutic interventions—for example, mindfulness-based cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness meditation—to help people avoid destructive or automatic habits and responses by learning to observe their thoughts, emotions, and other present-moment experiences without judging or reacting to them.

  • As stated by Sutton (2019),

Mindfulness, or sampajañña in Pali–one of the major languages of the Buddhist scriptures–means clear comprehension. Its definition aligns with its purpose, to help us see more clearly, respond more effectively to what life throws at us, and ultimately make wiser choices … As such, the mind can do more than merely think – it can be aware of its thinking. Such presence–or metacognition–allows us to experience the world more directly and with less bias.


  • Psychology Today (n.d.) describes,

Mindfulness encompasses two key ingredients: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is the knowledge and ability to focus attention on one’s inner processes and experiences, such as the experience of the present moment. Acceptance is the ability to observe and accept—rather than judge or avoid—those streams of thought.

  • Mindful (2020) explains the act of mindfulness as,


When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being. Mindfulness meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness—to ourselves and others. So, why and how do it? How can we become more mindful? Why should we? Benefits of mindfulness include (but are not limited to):

  • “Mindfulness training can improve mental activity and change brain connectivity and bodily processes” (Sutton, 2019).

  • Overall, evidence from correlational research suggests that mindfulness is positively associated with a variety of indicators of psychological health, such as higher levels of positive affect, life satisfaction, vitality, and adaptive emotion regulation, and lower levels of negative affect and psychopathological symptoms. There is also burgeoning evidence from neurobiological and laboratory behavioral research that indicates the potential roles of trait mindfulness and mindfulness meditation practices in reducing reactivity to emotional stimuli and enhancing psychological well-being (Keng et al., 2011)

Essentially, there are many benefits mindfulness could bring to our lives. With that being said, where do we start? Well, contrary to popular belief, mindfulness doesn’t mean you need to spend twenty hours meditating and fasting in a remote mountaintop to feel its benefits. Rather, it’s very accessible and not super time-consuming. In fact, experts have found that 5 minutes of mindfulness practices a day make a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Just 5 minutes!

Still think it’s just hocus pocus? We strongly encourage you to explore the list below gathered by Scott (2020), showcasing therapeutic approaches inspired by and incorporating mindfulness:


Formal or Informal?

Did you know there are various ways of practicing mindfulness? The commonly-known methods involve meditation, closing your eyes in a seated position, and deep breathing. Maybe that’s your jam and you love guided meditations! If so, check out the practices Global Minds Collective offer here. But, maybe that’s not your cup of tea. Maybe (like many folks), you have a billion things to do every day and less and less time to do it. No worries! Let’s chat about informal practices next.

Informal practices often combine multi-tasking, awareness, and focusing on the present moment. For example, think of how often you wash your hands in a day. Chances are, you’re already thinking of what you’ll do next while you’re washing your hands. Informal practices encourage you to continue delving into your typical tasks, with a greater focus on what’s happening right now.


So, if you’re washing your hands, an informal practice would involve washing them without thinking of a bunch of other thoughts, and with consideration to our senses. Feel the water on your hands. Is it cold? Is it warm? Feel the touch of your skin as you rub one hand with another. Is it smooth? Or coarse? Watch the bubbles form from your fingertips. What do they look like? How many bubbles are there? Does it smell nice? What does the water or your hands moving sound like? How does it feel to wash it all away?





Pace (2016) recommends the following informal mindfulness practices:


  • Washing dishes

  • Noticing nature

  • Listening

  • Showering

  • Driving

  • Movement

  • Breathing

Cassia (n.d.) also recommends:

  • Having a conversation with a friend

  • Walking the dog

  • Playing a game

  • Completing household chores

  • Mindful hugging!

I love that last suggestion!

Do you think you’ll have time in your busy day to try some or one of these? The next time you hug someone, try to focus on how it feels. How do they smell? What does their clothing feel like under your palms? Are you touching their skin? Is it warm? Consider the sensations your body feels – after all, we feel them for a reason, don’t we? Isn’t it time we stop auto-piloting our way through these feelings?

Another amazing way to practice mindfulness is with the help of animals! Here’s a cartoon by Henck van Bilsen that sums it up quite nicely (Roizen, 2012):




To close, we’ll leave you with a poem titled “A Taste of Mindfulness” written by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

Have you ever had the experience of stopping so completely,

of being in your body so completely,

of being in your life so completely,

that what you knew and what you didn’t know,

that what had been and what was yet to come,

and the way things are right now

no longer held even the slightest hint of anxiety or discord?

It would be a moment of complete presence, beyond striving, beyond mere

acceptance,

beyond the desire to escape or fix anything or plunge ahead,

a moment of pure being, no longer in time,

a moment of pure seeing, pure feeling,

a moment in which life simply is,

and that “is-ness” grabs you by all your senses,

all your memories, by your very genes,

by your loves, and

welcomes you home (Mindful Living Center, n.d.).

References

Cassia, C. (n.d.). Formal vs. informal mindfulness practice: How you can use both to become present and aware. Inner Explorer. https://innerexplorer.org/blog/Formal-vs-Informal-Mindfulness-Practice

Global Minds Collective. (n.d.). Free guided meditations. https://globalmindscollective.com/pages/mindfulness-free-guided-meditations

Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1041–1056. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006

Mindful Living Center (n.d.). Being mindful, formal and informal practices. https://mindfuliving.org/being-mindful-formal-and-informal-practices/

Mindful. (2020, July 8). What is mindfulness? https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/

Pace, K. (2016, May 10). Your mindfulness practice can be formal or informal. Michigan State University. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/your_mindfulness_practice_can_be_formal_or_informal

Psychology Today. (n.d.). Mindfulness. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/mindfulness

Roizen, S. (2012, December 10). Mind full or mindful? [Cartoon]. Art Therapy Spot https://arttherapyspot.com/2012/12/10/update-mind-full-or-mindful-imageartis/

Scott, E. (2022, December 1). What is mindfulness? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/mindfulness-the-health-and-stress-relief-benefits-3145189

Sutton, J. (2019, April 9). What is mindfulness? Definition, benefits & psychology. Positive Psychology. https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-mindfulness/

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