What is Mindfulness?

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These days, a lot of people are talking about mindfulness. But what exactly does this mean? Put simply, mindfulness is the state of being in the present moment. It is a practice of intentionally bringing all of your awareness into the here and now. Being mindful means being in the present moment and witnessing thoughts, feelings, sensations, and sensory stimuli without judgement or the desire to change what is. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present for no other reason than being awake. It originated from Buddhist and Hindu teachings and has grown in popularity in the modern Western world.

Generally speaking, our minds spend more time thinking about the future and worrying about the past than they do in the present. But the present is the space in which we create, build relationships, and experience love and gratitude. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is credited with bringing mindfulness to the western world, describes mindfulness as “presence of the heart”.

If you are someone who has ever tried practicing mindfulness, you will know it is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Be patient with yourself wherever you are on your journey and remember that even the most advanced practitioners dip in and out of their mindfulness practice. Meditation, cold plunging, and yoga are all great ways to develop mindfulness, as well as the following four practices. 

Four Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindful eating. Nourishing and fueling our physical bodies with food in today’s world is often a rushed experience. One way to cultivate mindfulness is by using mealtimes as an opportunity to sink into the present. Smell your food, see your food, taste your food. Practice mindfulness by witnessing your senses and actually experiencing the meal.

Mindful listening. Too often, we listen to others through a lens of “how am I going to respond?”. Mindfulness is a great way to practice listening simply to listen, releasing all judgement or plan for response. 

Mindful movement. Movement is another excellent entryway into mindfulness. Yoga and tai chi especially are wonderful for presence, as well as mindful walking. Try it. Go for a walk, listen to the surrounding sounds, and focus your attention on the way your body feels while in movement.

Mindful breathing. There are many different breathing techniques available to develop the body-breath connection including Whim Hof breathing, alternate nostril breathing, guided breathwork meditations, or simply beginning the day with five minutes of slow, deep, belly breathing. 

Why is Mindfulness Important?

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Since its entry into mainstream American culture in 1979, numerous studies have shown the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness. And the best part? Mindfulness is free and accessible to anyone.

One huge benefit of mindfulness is that it puts us back into the driver’s seat when we’ve been running on autopilot. Mindfulness also takes us out of our minds (where fear, anxiety, and depression live) and delivers us into our bodies, where creativity and love reside. And because the present moment is the place where we cultivate feelings of gratitude, this practice will help to increase feelings of positivity across the board.

Studies also show that entry into the present moment, even in small doses, greatly enhances our performance across all areas of life. In addition to increasing memory and focus, practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Because mindfulness is all about awareness and acceptance, when we become aware of our thoughts, feelings, stressors, and mental spirals, and then accept them as neither good nor bad but simply as, relief is granted. 

In the same way that we exercise and eat healthful foods to increase our physical health and make us feel better and more energized in our bodies, a mindfulness practice can hardwire our brains to feel calmer and happier. Mindfulness can also help to improve the quality of our relationships and increase our feelings of life satisfaction, overall. If you’d like to learn more, our therapists at The Relationship Therapy Center would love to meet with you and support you on your mindfulness journey. We have offices located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA, as well as online therapy sessions. Please call our offices to speak with our client care coordinator today.

Other Services offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:

Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.