Mindfulness

Stop. Take a Breath. Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the state of moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. It is human nature to sometimes live on autopilot.  We have tendencies to rehearse the future — what will I do next? Or rehash the past — I shouldn’t have done that.

Being mindful is noticing what is happening right now; without judging or trying to fix it. Being mindful and aware allows you to tune into signs and signals that your body and mind are sending.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness include reduced rumination, stress reduction, boosts to working memory, less emotional reactivity, increased cognitive flexibility, and relationship satisfaction. When we are present, we can make conscious, proactive choices about every aspect of our health.

Formally practicing mindfulness includes activities that allow you to dedicate time to meditate and be in the present moment; and informally—simply paying attention to what you are already doing, such as drinking a cup of coffee or petting the dog. Try a few of these simple steps to begin your mindfulness journey and remember that presence takes practice!

Practice mindfulness by maintaining the following activities

  • Find a time during the day to sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes, listen to your breath, and be in the moment. You may need to try meditating at different times of the day to see what works for you. Maybe it’s during your lunch break or first thing when you wake up.
  • Repetition is very helpful in sticking to mindfulness practice. Try combining meditation with another existing habit. For example, mediate right after brushing your teeth every morning. Meditating at the same time and place each day will help create a habit.

Try these simple steps

  • Find a comfortable seated posture with both feet flat on the ground.
  • Gently close your eyes, noticing the sensations in the body, the activity of the mind, and whatever emotions are present.
  • Invite a sense of ease into the body.
  • Gently turn your attention to your breath, perhaps noticing how the chest rises and falls with each breath.
  • The mind will wander. When you notice, softly bring the attention back to the breath.
  • Give yourself the space to be just as you are. The goal is paying attention to acceptance and kind curiosity.
  • Start with just 5 minutes and increase the time as it feels right.

Source: VA Women Veterans Health Care: www.womenshealth.va.gov

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