To practice mindfulness is to practice “being” in the present moment or in the now. Being in the now means, you are not thinking. Why? Because when you think, you are generally thinking about the past or the future.
When you are in the present moment you are experiencing it first hand, you are not really thinking about it. You are using your senses to experience it. You taste it, smell it, feel it, hear it, and see it. After you take in this information you may think about it, but then it is already in the past, right?
When you are listening to someone speak do you actually listen to them and absorb the current moment or are you thinking about what you are going to say back?
Many people practice mindfulness by focusing on their breath. I like to practice absorbing the environment without labeling it or judging it. I look, smell, feel, taste, and listen trying not to describe it. I focus on being inside my body, my body being in the room.
Sometimes I practice eating mindfully, really chewing and tasting my food. Smelling it, looking at it, thoroughly experience it.
Sometimes I sit in meditation for ten minutes. My yoga classes all incorporate meditations.
When I just cannot stop my mind from running wild, I too focus on my breath. I sometimes repeat a mantra like “Breathe in – Breathe out” or “Right now – I am”.
Why do we want to practice mindfulness? What are the benefits?
Non-scientifically and based on my experience only, mindfulness helps me to improve focus. I tend to look at my phone, see a notification, check it out, and get lost on social media. I think about something, Google it, get caught up online, and chase link after link down the rabbit hole. I plan to work on something at my desk, decide to tidy it up, carry something to another room, and then pickup stuff in there, abandoning my original task.
Another thing that mindfulness does for me is that it allows me to realize what I am thinking. When I am ruminating on something repeatedly in a loop, sometimes I just realize it and tell myself “you don’t have to do this”. Choose to think something else. I also can catch my thoughts when they are negative. Not always in the moment but generally soon after and I can then change my thoughts to quit wallowing in negative thoughts or even to apologize if necessary.
Overall, I feel generally calmer, more in control, and peacefully content.