Monday, October 18, 2021

Practicing Mindfulness: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

When you practice mindfulness, you are practicing the art of creating space for yourself: freedom to think, room to breathe, and distance between yourself and your reactions. It is a state that can be developed through practice. It’s not static, nor are some people “born more mindful” than others. It involves awareness and impartiality about what you can gain from that awareness. 

In August 2021, Positive Psychology published How To Practice Mindfulness: 11 Practical Steps and Tips. At its core, mindfulness is an activity that needs regular practice and continued intention. Decide on an uninterrupted time of day to set aside to practice it and stick to the same time through establishing your own schedule. 

Before embarking on the journey to mindfulness, the first essential step is to commit to the process. Some meta-analyses have highlighted varying effects for mindfulness interventions, and the authors believe this may be due to a lack of commitment from the participants. No success can be achieved unless you are fully engaged. 

Mindfulness requires you to be fully engaged.
No success can be achieved unless we are fully engaged. (Image: Rawpixelimages via Dreamstime)

Proven benefits from practicing mindfulness 

  1. Helps with easing anxiety and depression. 
  2. Reduces stress. 
  3. Improves focus and efficiency. 
  4. Improves sleep. 

Practicing mindfulness through simple meditation has shown positive results. Simple mindfulness through meditation includes: 

  • Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor. 
  • Focus on breathing, following sensations of air flowing into the nostrils and out of the mouth. 
  • Once concentration has been narrowed, widen your sense of focus. 

In September 2021, the Mindfulness Association published an article about “Mindful Movement.” Mindful movement is to be aware of moving, wherever you are, and wherever you are going.  Mindful movement can also include gardening, swimming, and cycling, among other daily activities and tasks. “We practice mindful movement with the same attitude that we bring to sitting meditation, without striving or forcing. We practice accepting our body as we find it, in the present, from one moment to the next,” as quoted from author Jon Kabat-Zinn. (Mindfulness Association)

Young woman doing yoga exercise outdoors on the Lisbon city view background.
Mindful movement is to be aware of moving, wherever you are, and wherever you are going. (Image: Helen Vechurko via Dreamstime)

One relatively new concept is the idea of combining mindfulness and art therapy, creating mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT). It is the result of combining mindfulness concepts with art therapy, such as painting, clay-modelling, or listening to music. Art therapy became popular as a form of treatment in the 1940s, utilizing art either as an approach to therapy or as a part of psychotherapy itself. In other words, you engage in the creative process of making art or listening to music as a way to explore yourself mindfully. 

Although research has found that being overly mindful can prevent the formation of bad habits, it would also appear that a high level of mindfulness makes it challenging to create good habits. Creating a balance of explicit and implicit memory-based skills has been the key to creating flow and superfluidity. Examples of detailed memory-based skills include:  the ability to remember what you have learned, recalling numbers, and the ability to read and write. On the other hand, examples of implicit memory-based skills include: singing a familiar song, riding a bike, and typing on a device. 

The original discovery of explicit and implicit memory stemmed from the treatment of a patient suffering from amnesia. However, despite much research and many studies, the exact nature of the relationship between explicit and implicit memory is still ambiguous.

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Katrina Hicks
Katrina Hicks is a freelance, thought provoking, creative writer who also possesses poetic talent. With a journalistic mindset, Katrina asks questions rhetorically for the reader to conclude their own narrative.

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