Right now, mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword. It’s everywhere - from schools, social media, TV, blogs and more. And despite it being something that is talked about a lot right now, lots of people from different cultures, races and religions have been practicing it for thousands of years all over the world.
This blog post will aim to explore what mindfulness is, why it can be good for us and exactly how to practice it in a way that feels right for you.
The definition of mindfulness
Do you ever feel like your mind is full? With thoughts, feelings, worries, fears and anything else that might take up space in there? Does it feel like you’re preoccupied with things that have happened in the past or things that might happen in the future?
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Feeling this way can be so overwhelming and affect your mood, sleep, appetite and general well being.
So that’s where the practice of mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment and being aware of what is going on around you - both on the outside and the inside too, without judging your thoughts and how you feel.
Sounds simple right? But actually for some people, it’s not so easy.
Barriers that might prevent us from being in the present moment.
We have such busy lives and busy minds that many people don’t see how anything else will fit into their day.
Some people doubt that something as simple as being in the moment could work for them. Also if something doesn’t work the first time around it can sometimes make people doubt its effectiveness.
For some, having busy lives, busy minds and multiple distractions means they don’t have to deal with the “here and now” which can sometimes feel like a scary place to be for all sorts of reasons.
What could mindfulness help with?
Mindfulness may help you with so many things, including:
- Difficult feelings including anxiety, sadness or anger
- Sleep issues
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of concentration
Despite all these positives, it’s important to note that practicing mindfulness can also sometimes trigger difficult feelings too. And so if you feel uncomfortable at any time, it’s OK to stop. It might also be something you need to practice or try out a few times before you really know if it could work for you.
What does science say about mindfulness?
Believe it or not, mindfulness can have a really positive effect on the brain too! Studies have shown it can improve memory and concentration as well as the ability to solve problems more effectively.
So how do you practice mindfulness?
We chatted to counselor, yoga teacher and mindfulness expert, Georgia who gave us a great insight into mindfulness and some simple everyday ways to practice it.
"The great thing about practicing mindfulness is that it’s available to us whenever we need it. There’s no special equipment needed, just ourselves. With busy lives (and phones!), we often forget to pause. But mindfulness is a way to stop, notice and focus in rather than out. This can help us calm our bodies and minds so that eventually we become less reactive to the world around us."
According to Georgia, being mindful can be as simple as:
- Focusing your mind on an activity such as drawing or coloring something.
- Focusing your mind on your breathing (breathing in and saying, “I know I am breathing in”, and then breathing out and saying to yourself “I know I am breathing out” is just one way to practice this.
- Noticing things around the space you are in using your senses (E.g. What can you see, smell, touch etc).
Important things to remember about mindfulness
- It can take a bit of practice. You might not get it the first time round or even the second or third but that’s okay because like with most things, it can take a bit of time.
- Be kind to yourself. Trying not to categorize your thoughts into “good” or “bad” can help you to accept your thoughts rather than being overwhelmed by them.
- Do what feels right for you. Mindfulness is not about what other people think or feel, it’s about your own journey. If something doesn’t feel right for you (including the suggestions made here) you can stop at any time.
A simple mindfulness exercise to try
Georgia told us about a creative and simple mindfulness exercise that we thought you’d like. We invite you to try it out at a time that feels right for you.
Don’t forget, if you don’t have time now but would like to try it later on, you can always save this article in your favorites.
Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed (this could be your bedroom, living room, a quiet place at home or even an outdoor space).
Take a few slow, deep breaths to relax your body and mind and close your eyes if it feels right.
Now I invite you to imagine that you are lying on the ground staring up at the sky in a peaceful outdoor space.
Imagine the vibrant colors of the sky and the big fluffy clouds floating past. Think about the colors and shapes you see gently floating across the sky.
Imagine these clouds you see are actually your thoughts passing through your mind. As they float past, notice them and what they might be about and then watch them float past and away from your view.
Now, take a minute to think about the things passing through your mind at this moment.
As a thought floats into your mind, just notice it, acknowledge that it’s there and allow it to float past without judgment, trying not to hold onto it as it floats away.
You can do this activity for as little or as long as you like. Do whatever feels right for you.
Want to incorporate the Mindfulness into your Lumio Classroom? Kooth and Lumio have partnered up to bring you free, engaging, mental wellness lesson content to your classroom. Get started with the lessons below today:
The Importance of Kindness for Grades 5-8
The Importance of Kindness for Grades 9-12
For more on our partnership with Kooth, head over to the Lumio X Kooth resources page.