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What is mindfulness and how to practice ?

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What is mindfulness?

Practicing mindfulness means paying full attention to the present moment, open and free from judgment. This practice can show you what you are feeling inside, such as your emotions and thoughts. It can help you become calmly aware of your surroundings, which in turn can affect how you respond to stressful situations.

Mindfulness originated primarily in Buddhist meditation. People who practice it are not necessarily spiritual or religious, although that is also possible. Mindfulness can be a structured practice (you choose a specific place and time to practice it) or not (it takes a spontaneous place in your daily routine).

What are some of the benefits of mindfulness?

If you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or touched by strong emotions due to certain experiences (job, stress, relationships, etc.), mindfulness practice can help you:

  • Relax or regain your composure;
  • Concentrate better;
  • Refocus your attention on the present moment;
  • Take time to find a response rather than reacting quickly;
  • Establish a routine for self-care;
  • Connecting with who you want to be in the world.

Mindfulness is not about forcing yourself to feel something, but rather about welcoming what you feel in a given moment. For some people who have experienced difficult situations or for whom certain circumstances may trigger different emotions, it may be important to try the experience first with a trusted adult before trying it alone. Mindfulness practice can be new, exciting, or confusing (or trigger different feelings), and it’s okay to ask for help to feel safe.

How can I practice it?

It usually takes time to train the mind to focus on the present moment. Depending on the day, mindfulness exercises can be either easy or more difficult. But with practice, mindfulness can lead to a better understanding of our thoughts and feelings.

Some people will ask, “Should I sit still, then close my eyes and meditate?” Of course you can meditate if you want to! There are many ways to practice mindfulness. If you’ve never tried these activities before, it can be helpful to start with a trusted adult by your side. Here are some ways to practice mindfulness in your everyday life (you can choose activities that interest you or are easier for you):

  • Breathing exercises: A breathing exercise can help you visualize how you breathe (e.g., from your belly or chest, through your nose or mouth, etc.). By connecting with your breath, you can discover how it matches your thoughts and feelings. (For example, you may notice that when you’re nervous, you tend to hold your breath without realizing it.)
  • Practice every day: getting your mind used to practicing mindfulness is like training your body. You can try to find opportunities to practice every day. For example, when you brush your teeth, try to quietly pay attention to how you feel. Pay attention to the texture of the bristles of your toothbrush on your gums, teeth, and tongue. Pay attention to how you hold the handle of your toothbrush, how cool or warm the water feels, etc.
  • Be one with nature: go outside and observe how your senses are in tune with your surroundings. Touch a tree trunk and appreciate its texture. Feel the fresh air. Listen for the sound of earth (or snow) as you walk. Let the sun warm your face.
  • Consider taking up a hobby: Whether it’s a sport or a creative activity (or something else you enjoy!), try to stay focused on your goal. When you score a goal or take a shot, what do you feel and observe?
  • Try techniques that relate to here-and-now awareness: While mindfulness can gently facilitate awareness of the present moment, here-and-now awareness techniques can help you connect with what is safe around you when you feel overwhelmed by past experiences or when such thoughts cause you to relive negative experiences.

Where can I get help with mindfulness?

If you want help with mindfulness, you can talk to a trusted adult (a parent, guardian, doctor, etc.). Mindfulness is also a part of techniques included in my program

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