Act Belong Commit is encouraging everyone to participate in mindfulness this May.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been a buzzword over the last few years, but what does it really mean? And how can it improve wellbeing?
Mindfulness is awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings. Mindfulness can help people avoid destructive or automatic habits and responses by learning to observe their thoughts, emotions, and other present-moment experiences without judging or reacting to them.
Mindfulness is used in several therapeutic interventions, including mindfulness-based cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and mindfulness meditation.
Some of the potential benefits of regular mindfulness practice are2:
- Reduced rumination and fewer depressive symptoms
- Stress reduction
- Decreases anxiety
- Boosts to working memory.
- Improved ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information
- Greater cognitive flexibility. people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation
You’ll find more detail on the benefits of mindfulness in this article on the American Psychological Association website.
Being spiritually active is all about being connected to something bigger. We see Mindfulness as a way of being spiritually active. By spending regular time in nature, connected to a faith, reflecting, being grateful and living in the moment we are being spiritually active and mindful.
How can we be mindful?
Meditation (Deep Breathing and Body Scan)
Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. It combines meditation with the practice of mindfulness, which can be defined as a mental state that involves being fully focused on “the now” so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.
Doing a guided body scan is a type of meditation. The process involves deep breathing while scanning your body from head to toe and noticing where you might be holding tension. The body scan meditation can promote body awareness, stress awareness, and relaxation.
Studies show breathing exercises can improve cognitive function, encourage positive thought, and reduce symptoms of anxiety. We can do breathing exercises anywhere to help feel relaxed or more energized.
Colouring can be an enjoyable way of practising mindfulness. Colouring is good for us because it uses the part of our brain responsible for improving concentration, motor skills, problem solving and organisational skills.
Mindfulness has always been an essential aspect of the physical practice of yoga. Mindful Yoga is not just a physical activity focussed on alignment and physical posture, we can cultivate mindfulness through yoga by focussing on our breath and non-judgmentally reflecting on our yoga practice.
Spending time in nature, even in a city setting, has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood. When people are mindful in nature it can maximise the experience of being in nature. Although not a replacement for the real thing, even watching nature through screens can help lower stress levels.
Sit in nature – perhaps a park, garden or somewhere more remote. Feel the fresh air, sit and listen to the sounds of nature.
- Watch an animal, bird or insect at work or play until it departs.
- Sit and watch a shadow until it has crossed your path…
- Sit until the sun completely sets…
- Sit until the birds finish their song…
Or simply watch a cloud as it changes shape and disappears or passes on the horizon.
Gratitude is the act of being thankful and appreciating certain things in our life. Practicing this regularly helps us feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
These are some common examples of mindfulness. Although we can incorporate mindfulness into many aspects in our day. From eating to gardening to driving. It’s about being present in the moment and focusing non-judgmentally on our surroundings. Keep in mind, to see benefits from mindfulness practice, this needs to be done on a regular basis.
Mindful May 2023
This year we are promoting Mindfulness across the 5 Mondays in May. Check out our social media channels for more mindfulness tips.