Do you want to have less stress, focus more, and improve your health in only 10 minutes a day?
If so, you may want to give mindfulness training a try.
Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness experience positive changes in many areas of their lives, including improved self-esteem, ability to focus, and reduced stress. But what exactly is mindfulness, and how can you do it?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment and your thoughts, without casting judgment or trying to qualify them as “positive” or “negative”. Traditionally a practice of Eastern spiritualists and Zen Buddhists, the medical community has in recent years begun to recognize the health benefits of applying these practices to your everyday routine.
Why You Should Try It
Studies suggest that practicing mindfulness can actually have an effect on your brain processes, particularly in the amygdala. Researchers speculate that mindfulness-based training offers lasting effects on the way problems are perceived and subsequently dealt with, resulting in more balanced emotional responses. Not only are there measurable changes in the response of the amygdala to stimuli, but people report a significant and lasting decrease in their depression.
Related: 4 Easy Steps to Happiness
There are other benefits to this sort of mental training. Forcing yourself to focus on being present, measuring your breaths and taking in your surroundings may increase brain connectivity, notably in areas of the brain associated with attention and auditory and visual processing.
Being mindful through meditation for just ten minutes a day can also increase your general sense of happiness and self worth.
If you can take just 10 minutes out of your busy day to do nothing, you can begin your journey to mindfulness. It’s as simple as sitting back, getting comfortable, and allowing your mind to clear. Take a look at these simple steps.
Seven Easy Steps to Mindfulness
1. Make Time
Set aside a small block of time every day that you can commit to. It is ideal if this time is the same every day, but not imperative. If you have children, it might be best to try to accomplish this in the morning or early afternoon, while they’re at school. Regardless, you want a quiet time to practice mindfulness.
2. Find Your Place
Make sure you have access to a quiet space. Close the door and put your phone on silent, or better yet, turn it off completely.
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3. Get comfortable!
Sit on a chair or couch, with your back straight and feet on the floor. Let your hands sit comfortably in your lap.
Take a few slow, deep breaths, about five or so. On your last breath, close your eyes.
5. Take in the present moment
Focus on what your body feels like, how the room smells, and whether you can feel any stress in your body. Allow your thoughts to drift through your mind, but try to remain a passive observer, rather than worrying about their possible implications.
Remaining in this position for ten minutes may be difficult; intrusive thoughts may present themselves the moment you feel as though you’ve managed to clear your mind. Don’t get discouraged! Remember that there is no “goal” in this sort of activity, just learn to be comfortable with yourself in the present moment.
7. When you’ve finished, make a plan and take action on it!
It can be difficult to transition from this quiet, calm state to the bustle of your everyday life, so make a small goal, even if it’s as simple as, “When I get up I’ll make a pot of coffee.” Reflect throughout your day on the sensation of being fully present.
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Practicing mindfulness for as little as 10 minutes each day can improve your mental health and well-being, and get you on your path to living a better life. So find a place, calm your mind, and enjoy the benefits of being mindful…
This story was approved by Dr. Brad Lichtenstein. Originally published 3/18/13 and updated 11/14.
Photo credit: lutty moreira