Mindfulness is a practice sweeping the country and beyond. It has become a buzzword in the worlds of wellness and mental health. But what does it mean for you?
What is it?
We all know that yoga can be a powerful tool for relieving stress. We know that eating less salt can help lower blood pressure, and that we shouldn’t drink excessively or smoke. It can quickly become overwhelming when you think about all of the dos and don’ts regarding your health.
Mindfulness is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health and well-being. No equipment, membership, or nutrition subscription necessary.
So what is it? Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, and aware of where we are and what we’re doing.
While practicing mindfulness, a person can observe present thoughts or feelings without passing judgment; this allows you to accept the present moment without dwelling on past experiences.
Want to give it a try? Take a second to pause and really think about your surroundings, and observe what’s going on closest to you. What do you hear? Can you smell a warm cup of coffee or your officemate’s breakfast? Does the air feel cool from the air conditioner or warm and stuffy? Now bring your attention back to your computer; you just practiced mindfulness.
Mindfulness exists any time a person brings direct attention to what they are experiencing. And while mindfulness is commonly linked to meditation, you don’t actually have to be meditating to experience mindfulness. Those who are meditating can use mindfulness as a technique to help them reach calmness and clarity.
Why it’s important
Mindfulness continues to be linked to many scientifically proven benefits, such as stress reduction, improved working memory, and increased immune function. Here are some of the most common benefits:
- Used to heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces chronic pain
- Improves sleep
- Helps in reducing depression, anxiety, substance abuse
- Reduces emotional reactivity
- Improves focus
- Improves relationship satisfaction, due to improved self-observation and communication
What we’re doing
Each Monday, the Long Island Health Collaborative celebrates Mindful Monday with a Facebook post. We’re sharing information on what mindfulness is, meditation tips, and other helpful topics. The goal is to spread awareness of the practice, and encourage followers to take a few minutes out of their busy Mondays to focus on themselves.
Many other organizations on Long Island are already working towards a more mindful community. St. Francis Hospital’s Women’s Heart Program has implemented Meditation and Mindfulness Practices to their Lifestyle Management services for cardiac patients. Western Suffolk BOCES has brought mindfulness to schools through yoga and meditation programs for students, and to teachers on Conference Days. Association for Mental Health and Wellness is offering Mindfulness Skills Training for the Behavioral Health Provider, which will provide mindfulness techniques for work in clinical settings.
Are you or your organization practicing mindfulness or other wellness activities? Share your practice with us!
What you can do
There are practically unlimited ways for you to be more mindful throughout your day. Take 5 minutes in the morning to practice meditation, or simply pause for a moment when something stressful happens instead of rushing to judgment. Try implementing one or more of these easy tips into your day today:
- Allow yourself to reflect as soon as you wake up, to set the tone for the day
- Take time to be mindful during mundane activities, such as brushing your teeth or sitting in traffic
- Let your mind wander, and then consciously, gently bring it back
- Stay non-judgmental; allow yourself to have whatever thought pops up, make a note of it, and then let it pass
- Learn to meditate
- End your day by practicing a body scan
Want to see the Long Island Health Collaborative’s weekly mindfulness post? Follow us and our partners on Facebook.