What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness has increasingly gained popularity for its positive effects when incorporated into the treatment of a variety of medical and psychological conditions, but, additionally, when added into everyday routine. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment without placing judgment on one’s current thoughts, sensations, and feelings. Research supports that people who increase levels of mindfulness have demonstrated decreased negative self-evaluation, increased self-acceptance, and increased engagement in behaviors that align with one self values.
Below are six mindfulness techniques to try in your own routine:
#1 Gratitude List: Make a list of 5 to 10 things for which you are grateful. Be specific. Creating gratitude lists allow us to engage in reflection about how things in our lives are currently going. Focusing on aspects of our lives in which we are grateful is a grounding technique because it shifts our attention to aspects of our lives that are going well rather than what is missing.
#2 Intention Setting: At the start of the day, set aside ten minutes to focus on your intentions for the day and what you would like to accomplish. These ten minutes can involve journaling, meditation, reading, yoga, and more. Setting aside time for goal-setting (before the day has started) allows us to go into the day with a clear mind, and it helps us stay more grounded in the present moment. Positive intentions can lead to feelings of boosted self esteem and confidence in one’s abilities to engage in one’s life.
#3 Thought Journal: Writing down our thoughts helps us to better understand our needs and current state of mind by defining our worries and feelings. This exercise helps one gain perspective, and it helps us to identify ways in which we can implement healthy thinking strategies that lead to more balanced thoughts and coping mechanisms.
#4 Deep Breathing: The process of deep breathing when feeling stressed or distracted works to relax the nervous system and turns the focus to the present moment. Several variations of deep breathing techniques have been developed. The four count method is commonly introduced for beginners and involves breathing in for four seconds and breathing out for four seconds. Repeat this cycle until it has been completed at least five times.
#5 Body Scan: Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Focus on one body part. Release your breath and become observant of the environment around you through sensations such as touch, smell, and sound. Repeat this process for another body part until you have covered your whole body or are out of time. Some people choose to start this process from the feet working up to the head. This technique helps us become attuned to the present moment and creates space to focus on current feelings so we can better identify them.
#6 Candle Study Exercise: Find a comfortable space and sit comfortably. Choose your favorite candle, light it, and put it in a place you can see. Watch the flame of the candle flicker for five to ten minutes. During this time you can let your mind wander, focus on affirmations, make a gratitude list, etc. This time allows us to become better aware of our current thoughts, emotions, and needs.
Heppner, W.L., & Kernis, M.H. (2007). ‘‘Quiet ego’’ functioning: The complementary roles of mindfulness, authenticity, and secure high self-esteem. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 248-250. doi:10.1080/10478400701598330