When the word mindfulness comes to mind, many assume it involves being zoned out and ignoring reality. In fact, mindfulness is just the opposite. Jon Kabat Zinn, a leader in the field of mindfulness, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”
The results of regular mindfulness practice are so powerful that major corporations, hospitals and even schools have begun to implement mindfulness programs. Powerful outcomes include improved employee productivity, improved job satisfaction, improved test scores and decreased discipline issues in schools.
Over time, practicing mindfulness has been shown in studies to decrease stress, decrease chronic pain, improve memory, improve emotional regulation, lead to improved sleep, and increase immune system function.
So how do you practice mindfulness? One way is to STOP during the day.
Stop what you are doing.
Take five deep breaths.
Observe your thoughts and feelings.
Proceed with your day.
This simple exercise will bring you back to the present moment and shift your mind out of reactive mode. There are also several helpful apps, including Calm and Insight Timer, that can teach and guide you through the practice of mindfulness meditation.
Results aren’t instant and mindfulness takes practice. Think of it as a strengthening exercise for your brain. When you notice your mind start to wander, bring your focus back to your breath. This will strengthen the areas of the brain that improve concentration. Just five minutes a day on a regular basis can lead to results. So, next time you notice stress starting to take over remember to STOP and just live in the present moment.