Practicing Mindfulness

mindfulness practice

Mindfulness has recently become a “buzzword”, but what is it and does it have any actual benefits?

Mindfulness practice is based on the notion of being in the present moment and aware of all things going on around and within ourselves.

There are five key components of mindfulness, which are:

  1. Non-judging

  2. Acting with awareness

  3. Observing

  4. Describing

  5. Non-reactivity

What is the benefit of mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice has become a hot topic--and for good reason! Across the literature, there is a general agreement that mindfulness practice has a variety of benefits, including the reduction of depression, anxiety, addiction cravings, and overall stress.

How do we practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness practice can be as informal or formal as you’d like.

It can be time set aside each day for meditation, or it could be as simple as paying more mind to our daily activities, such as washing the dishes.

Quick mindfulness exercise:

Try this the next time you eat a meal.

If you are like most of us, you tend to shovel food into your mouth as quickly as possible, hardly even tasting what you’ve eaten. Instead of this, I challenge you to slow down your next mealtime…

  • Take a look at your meal...what are the primary colors and textures of your food? Which stands out the most to you?

  • Get your nose involved! What does your food smell like? Does this smell take you back to a certain memory?

  • Take a small bite...notice the initial taste. Is your food sweet? Spicy? Savory? Sour? A mix of flavors? Which flavors stand out the most to you?

  • How do you feel when eating this food? Is it comforting to you? Do you have memories of a loved one preparing this meal?

  • Take note of every bite of the meal and focus only on the meal and nothing else--set aside your phone, your work, and your distractions.

  • Once you finish, did this meal feel different than normal? Did you enjoy the food more? How do you feel about this exercise?

In all… the key to mindfulness is to just be present. Take note of how you are feeling, of the thoughts going through your mind, of your surroundings, of the objects you may be touching, of the smells in the air...everything.

Mindfullness is not easy at first

Your mind is likely to be racing with a million thoughts, and it will be easy to get frustrated and try to shut them out...but don’t.

Acknowledge those thoughts and let them keep flowing. Accept yourself as you are at the present moment, racing thoughts and all! As you continue, mindfulness practice will begin to feel much more comfortable, and sitting with yourself will become far easier than you thought it could be.

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Hudson LCSW Group is a Westchester county counseling practice located in White Plains, NY. Our team of clinicians provide therapy for children, teens and adults.