Mindfulness- What is it?

There is a lot of talk about mindfulness, but what exactly does this mean? Mindfulness can be defined as being completely focused in the moment and paying attention to all five of your senses:

  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Hear
  • Feel
  • See

As you are focusing on the moment you will also want to be aware of your:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Actions
  • Physical Sensations

It is important not to judge yourself or your experience, but simply acknowledge thoughts and feelings as they arise, let them go, and refocus on your five senses.
Benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased pain levels
  • Improved sleep

Mindfulness is a skill that can be strengthened with consistent practice. Think of mindfulness as going to lift weights at a gym. On your very first day you would not expect yourself to be able to lift 100-pound dumbbells. You might have to start lifting with 2.5-pound dumbbells. You would not expect to go in the next day and lift 100 pounds either, you would expect to build up to 5 pounds the nextweek and maybe 10 pounds the week after. You would expect to be sore and tired along this journey to lifting 100 pounds.

Mindfulness follows a similar process. Setting small goals of practicing, for example, 30-60 seconds daily for a week is a good starting point and building block. There will be times when it is more difficult, because it is a different way of focusing and training your brain. With practice you will be able to increase the length of time you are mindfully able to stay focused on a task and the more automatic it will become.

You can use mindfulness in different contexts and activities, it does not have to be sitting cross legged in a yoga studio saying “Om” (although it can include that too!). Try practicing being mindful during the following activities:

  • Showering
  • Eating
  • Walking
  • Artwork
  • Homework

In conclusion, mindfulness can be a useful skill or tool to help you regulate your emotions and improve overall wellness. Anyone can do it, in any environment. Please consider some of the above suggestions. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, emotion regulation, stress, sleep, or chronic pain issues consider reaching out to us at The Behavioral Wellness Group.

Kayla Walter, LPC, CDCA
Pre-Doctoral Psychology Trainee
The Behavioral Wellness Group