The Abbreviated Guide to Mindfulness

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I’ve actually been avoiding writing about mindfulness for quite a while now. Because I may just suck at it a little. My mind is constantly all over the place. So, to get it to calm down takes some work. But, mindfulness isn’t just calming your mind and getting your mind to stop.

What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is a type of meditation. It is being present in the moment. It means that your mind is fully attentive to what is going on. Sounds easy, right?

Well, it’s not always so easy. With the way the world is constantly on the go, it’s hard to just stay in one moment. It’s always, what’s next? You find yourself thinking about the next step in the process before you even finish one thing. And while that can be great for being efficient, it can lead to a lackluster life.

Think about. If you are not present in the current moment, are you really enjoying the moment? You just started school and you are already thinking about graduating and getting a job. What about now? Are you being present today, at this hour, at this minute? What’s happening now?

Have you ever taken a second to just breathe and notice how you are feeling? Because that’s what being mindfulness is about. How do you feel at this moment while you are in school? Not 20 million years into the future. It’s okay. We all do it.

Why Should You Even Bother With Being Mindful?

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The simple answer: It’s good for you.

The more in-depth answer for those of you who don’t just believe everything you read is that the purpose of mindfulness is to keep us from drifting too far off and losing ourselves.

You know that point where you think: how did end up here? How did I become so unhappy? You can catch yourself before you reach that stage with mindfulness. Because the whole point of mindfulness is to monitor your feelings and be aware of all that you are doing. It’s basically just looking out for yourself. It’s the ultimate self-care.

Using mindfulness, you can decrease your stress and decrease your chances of burning out.

But being mindful doesn’t just improve your mental health. It also improves your physical health. Watch your blood pressure levels go down. Improve your quality of sleep and improve your digestive health. Yes, the mind is a powerful tool in many ways. Just by mastering it and your emotional well-being, you can do a lot.

How to Achieve Mindfulness

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Okay, so now you’re convinced. What’s the next step? You might say, Shika, I’m no good at meditation. Well, that’s you and me, both. But, luckily, you don’t have to stay still in one place to be mindful.

In fact, you stay active. All you have to do is incorporate these tips into your daily routine:

Pay Attention

Yep, that simple. Pay attention to the things that you normally do on autopilot. You know like paying attention to how you eat. Concentrate on how the food tastes and smells.

Concentrate on your morning routine. Enjoy your morning shower. Concentrate on how you brush your teeth. But don’t judge your habits or try to change them. Just notice what you are doing. The point is just to be aware. Yeah, I know, it’s harder than it sounds.

Another part of paying attention is noticing how you feel. Are you tense? Are you happy? Do you even have any feelings? It’s okay to not feel anything in particular sometimes.

Day Dream

I know. It sounds counter-intuitive. But, sometimes forcing yourself to concentrate on everything you do takes away from the whole point of mindfulness. Mindfulness is supposed to be a stress-reducing activity. Allowing your mind to wander takes the pressure off concentrating on your every move.

Short Bursts

Don’t be mindful too long. I know some of you overachievers. You’re already planning to be mindful for a full 24 hours. Slow and steady wins the race. Start small.

Short disbursed mindful periods over the course of 24 hours work better than one long one. Because, one, it’s less draining and two, it puts less pressure on you. You are more likely to stick to being mindful if the stakes seem low.

Let Go of Tension

Let go of the tension. Sometimes, you’re tense without even realizing. So, it’s good to have a mental check-in with yourself every now and then.

You may notice that your tension is showing up physically. Your muscles are tight. Your shoulders are scrunched up to your ears and your muscles just feel tense. Relax your muscles and breathe.

Maybe even try to get someone to give you a massage. Massages can work miracles for your life. But, that’s beside the point. Drop your shoulders and loosen up your muscles. Sometimes stress can take a physical manifestation in your body.

Conclusion

I had been avoiding this topic for a while. But I finally did it! Be mindful! Drop your shoulders and take a deep breath. Check-in with your emotions every now and then. Notice how you’re feeling before things escalate too fast. Practice short bursts of mindfulness during the day and don’t be afraid to let your mind wander. Mindfulness is great for both your physical and your mental health.

Thanks for reading my rant,

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Shika Tamaklo is a pharmacy student attending Mercer University. She is a college lifestyle blogger who writes on fitness, health, student life struggles and, occasionally dabbles in creative writing.

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