What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness simply means being in the present moment. It tells you to feel the flow of time by only paying attention to where you are, what you are doing, what is in your mind, and how you feel at this present moment. By channeling your concentration entirely towards your bodily sensations and inner experiences, it gets easier to calm yourself down and be closer to your inner selves.
There are two key elements of mindfulness: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is to intentionally identify what is around you and what is inside you: i.e. wind blowing over your face, birds’ voices above the square, or random thoughts floating in your mind. Try to feel all of them with focused and alert consciousness. Acceptance is to let them be what they are, which means fully accepting everything you’ve noticed and felt at this moment without any judgements or avoidance.
A mindful living can then be considered as a moment-to-moment state of mind that helps gain control back over life and achieve greater happiness. It focuses your attention to the present, instead of looking backwards to the past or anticipating too much about the future.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Some may confuse mindfulness with meditation. The latter usually means staying in static with full concentration on yourself, in order to quiet your body and achieve a higher level of consciousness. Differently, mindfulness can be woven into any activities, such as a work-out session, an engaged conversation, or a journal-writing process.
Benefits of Mindfulness
- It helps with mental health
Mindfulness is used by many psychotherapists as a clinical method in the treatment for a number of problems, such as depression and anxiety attacks. This works because it helps people practice self-acceptance -- accepting all the emotions, whether good or bad, instead of pushing them away.
- It is good for physical health
Many scientists have also found mindfulness techniques are beneficial to people’s physical health, such as lowering their blood pressure, reducing stress level, improving sleeping quality and alleviating chronic pain.
- It enhances well-being in life
More importantly, being mindful can help us achieve greater happiness in life, because people who practice mindfulness tend to focus more on what’s currently happening in life, and less on what past has left them with or what future will unfold. They are thus more likely to be able to savor the pleasant moments in life as they occur, and be more engaged in the current activities. A more satisfying life is thus easier to be achieved.
How to practice Mindfulness
Understanding what mindfulness is and how it can benefit us in health and well-being, you may feel motivated to try or practice it on a more regular basis. There are many ways to do that, and no matter what methods you’re comfortable with, the key is to create a state of conscious relaxation by paying attention to sensations and thoughts without judgment. What I suggest you do first is mindfulness meditation.
Start with a mindfulness meditation
- Sit down in a quiet place and start from deep breathing.
- Focus on the in n' out of the air from your nose or mouth.
- Control your consciousness to tell yourself to relax from head to toe.
- Observe surroundings, i.e. smell from kitchen or sound from street.
- Shift the attention to your body sensations, i.e. a tickling or a slight move.
- Let random thoughts come and go without judging or avoiding them.
- If any negative emotions are evoked, accept them and let them stay.
This is basically a usual practice of mindfulness meditation, and it's not restricted by time and space. All is about the inner peace. To help you do that, TickTick has a feature called Focus, you can either choose to start your Pomo Timer or Stopwatch to count down/up your mindful hours. The data of your meditation can also be synced to your Apple Mindfulness.
Except for mindfulness meditation, being mindful actually comes in more intrigue and intuitive ways, and it is something that can be embedded into daily life.
Cultivate mindfulness in daily activities
- Wake up with intentions
Waking up in the morning, maybe try sitting in your bed and taking three deep breaths before getting up. Ask yourself how you wish your day to be like. For example, I wish I can be productive at work, be kind to strangers, be calm when facing difficulties at work. With these intentions, I might constantly go back to them and see if I’ve proceeded towards them.
- Avoid rush commute
I used to be very poor at arriving at the office on time, but what drove me to change was one relaxed commuting experience I had not so long ago. When I have enough time for my commute to work, I can actually enjoy the time I spend with myself more deeply at the start of morning. I can even feel the breeze blowing on my face, the birds' singing in the trees, cars' honking and the nice smell of coffee shops from the corner. Life gets more beautiful even when nothing changes except for my own sensations.
- Mindful eating
Another advice is to slow down the pace of eating, in order to give yourself enough time to taste the food and let the flavors stay longer in your mouth. Thank people who made the food and be grateful that you’re able to eat. Eat according to your hunger instead of stuffing yourself just because you’re supposed to do so.
- Mindful working out
Working out with mindfulness is also what brings us joy in daily life. Personally, yoga is within my mindfulness practices, because I can always slow down and focus only on doing those yoga gestures, to immerse myself in the situation. With every breath, I feel the stretch of my body is enhanced inch by inch. No matter what your daily exercises are like, the key is to focus on what you're doing in the workout, with concentration on subtle changes of your body and inner feelings.
In general, being mindful is a mindset instead of a specific activity. If you find yourself easily getting worried about regrets in the past or challenges in the future, maybe it’s time to practice mindfulness in order to focus more on the present. This will help you feel more secure, controllable, and satisfied with life.
Tip: Make mindfulness a daily habit at TickTick!