- Hailey Lau
I’ve always been one to practise mindfulness. Not only did I practise it when I was stressed from my schoolwork, but I would also do it whenever I wanted to concentrate on myself and bring about more positivity to my life. For me, mindful breathing was not my cup of tea (but could be yours!). My mind would constantly run off to other things, and it was hard for me to concentrate. Rather, I preferred mindful showers and practising gratitude. I would listen to calming music to focus my attention when I journaled. These habits have built my character, my confidence and helped me become a more optimistic person!
So....what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the state of living in the present, observing your thoughts and feelings, and exploring yourself.
3 Fun Facts about mindfulness (TMP admin, 2021)
There are various ways to practise mindfulness - this may include going on a mini nature walk, doing breathing exercises throughout the day, and paying attention to tensions in your body, etc.
Mindfulness is not non-religious - mindfulness could be practised by all individuals whether you practise a certain faith or religion or not.
Mindfulness helps us cope with negative emotions and focus on ourselves - mindfulness does not eliminate all our problems, but it does help us face difficulties with a more positive and logical approach.
Why practice mindfulness? The science behind it.
Mindfulness intensifies the activity in our amygdala, an area of our brain that processes stimuli. When the amygdala signals a strong emotion in the environment, the signal is transferred to the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain which reduces the intensity of the emotion (Bezdek and Telzer, 2017). Mindfulness slows down our thoughts and reduces stress in our mind and body, allowing us to approach tasks with a calmer mind.
How to start practising mindfulness right now?
Disclaimer: There are a variety of mindfulness practices. Please don’t limit yourself to these steps, find the one that suits your needs the most. As long as it helps you focus on the present, it could be the method for you!
Mindful breathing: This is a simple yet powerful tool. Find a relaxed, comfortable position, whether that is seated on a chair on standing. Then. Then focus on your inhales and exhales. If your mind wanders off, simply recenter your attention and focus on your breaths again. Here is an example of a 5-minute guided mindful breathing exercise you could follow.
Walking meditation: This helps bridge the gap between everyday tasks to focusing your attention on yourself and the present moment. By walking meditation, it means to pay attention to your thoughts, your pace, the ground underneath your feet while you are undertaking your daily activities. Remind yourself to be in the moment, taking each step as it comes.
Practise gratitude: This aids us in focusing our attention to the positives in our lives. You could practise this by jotting down the good stuff that comes to your mind. Instead of fretting about the future or discussing the past, focus on the current positives that could help you build a happier future.
Take a mindful shower/bath: Feel the water splash against your skin, smell the scent of soap. This practise calms you, it makes you feel pampered and taken care of. During your shower/bath, you are more likely to be present and aware of your thoughts and feelings. (Pal, Hauck, Goldstien, Bobinet, Bradley, 2018)
Do a mindful workout: Do an exercise that not only burns calories, not only master a skill, but helps you shift your mind from feeling busy and distracted to calm and tranquil. This could be riding a bike, lifting weights, performing a cardio workout, etc. (Pal, Hauck, Goldstien, Bobinet, Bradley, 2018)
Listen to music to help you concentrate: You could select a soundtrack without lyrics and let yourself be lost in the melody. This usually helps with concentration and returning to the present. (Therapy for you, 2020)
Download mindfulness apps: Here are our favourite resources to try:
Headspace helps you find positivity in life, get better rest, and bring wellness to your body.
Calm offers guided meditation that is personalised to your experience and needs.
Welzen offers journaling resources, music, meditations, etc.
Creative mindfulness: There are various types of mindfulness practises that are more creative, including art and dance mindfulness,etc. Art mindfulness may comprise of drawing a picture of yourself and making it as realistic as possible. People learn to accept any “flaws” that they have in the picture.Here is a step-by-step guided video on how art mindfulness can be done. Another type of creative mindfulness is dance mindfulness. For dancers, this may be a relaxing yet enjoyable activity, allowing them to express their emotions and relieve any negative emotions. Dance mindfulness could be done in many forms, if you want to know more about why and how people conduct dance mindfulness, check this video out. If you are interested in these creative mindfulness practices, you could join classes or clubs at your school that guide you through the process as a beginner.
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