Many of us constantly feel trapped in a whirlwind of busy schedules. According to The American Institute of Stress, 55% of Americans are stressed during the day. Luckily, there are some ways to help manage stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking time to clear your mind of thoughts, judgments and opinions can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. This practice is known as mindfulness.
Mindfulness can have multiple health benefits. It all starts with the seven principles of mindfulness coined by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, "Full Catastrophe Living."
The first principle of mindfulness is “non-judging.” According to PsychCentral, non-judging is the act of putting ideas, opinions, likes and dislikes out of your mind. This principle is about accepting things as they are and focusing on your breath alone, leaving all judgments at the door.
The second principle, patience, is about giving yourself the time to explore mindfulness without rushing through. You may not get what you want out of mindfulness in the beginning. Have grace with yourself and accept that all good things come with time. Having patience and taking the time to appreciate each moment are crucial factors to the success of mindfulness.
3. Beginner’s mind
Having a beginner’s mind means to approach mindfulness with an openness to new experiences and possibilities. Leave beliefs and expectations behind. Your mind should be clear and present in the moment.
When meditating, you should trust yourself and your feelings. Mindfulness is all about becoming in-tune with your thoughts and feelings. So, while you may be able to learn from others’ experiences, trusting your own intuition is most important.
When practicing mindfulness, you should be experiencing everything in the present moment. While it’s often our impulse to set goals and follow ambition, this is not constructive while meditating. Embrace the present instead of looking toward a future goal.
Acceptance involves taking things as they are without trying to change them. Practicing mindfulness challenges you to accept your current situation. By doing so, you can appreciate the present and experience it without distractions.
7. Letting go
The final principle of mindfulness is “letting go.” During meditation, you may want to hold on to some thoughts and experiences more than others. You may be tempted to judge them; however, it’s necessary to let these thoughts be what they are and let them go.
Mindfulness in practice
While meditation is the most well-known mindfulness practice, you don’t necessarily have to dedicate time to meditate every day to practice mindfulness. In fact, there are multiple mindfulness-based activities you can work into your day to day to decrease stress.
Find ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life here on A Healthier Michigan.