Mindfulness is a basic quality that is present in every human being, but we live in such a fast-paced world that we often forget to reconnect with our bodies and thus become unaware of what is happening around us, free from judgment and distraction.
Mindfulness is not something you can conjure up, rather it is something you must learn to access. It is a state and not a trait, and a concept familiar to those who practice meditation, as the two go hand in hand, but is in no way equivalent to it. To put it simply, mindfulness means paying close attention to what is happening at the moment.
Why practice it?
Mindfulness can help keep you in touch with your hopes and goals in life. If you focus just on the moment, it will prevent you from reacting quickly to do what you usually do, without thinking about it. This eventually lets you change what you are doing at the moment, rather than regretting it later on.
How does mindfulness work?
Studies by experts have revealed that mindfulness works best in helping individuals to accept their experiences, rather than to treat them with disdain and aversion. Practising mindfulness involves breathing techniques, guided imagery, using online apps and accessing websites which show how to relax the body and mind.
It also becomes extremely vital to incorporate mindfulness meditation with online psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). There is even a combined treatment called MBCT. This is because both mindfulness and CBT have the same aim of helping people change perspective on thoughts that are irrational and self-defeating.
Mindfulness blogs and websites
There are various courses available on the internet which provide a broad review of the basics and fundamental concepts of practicing mindfulness through interactive exercises.
Students are taught how to explore their own behaviours and mental attitude in order to live with more freedom, ease and authenticity. Other components of these courses include guided meditations, interactive discussions, experimental exercises and personal reflection.
There are also mindfulness blogs, like Wisdom Publication and Tiny Buddha, for those who prefer to track their feelings by filling up a daily questionnaire and reading online content relating to mindfulness issues, rather than sitting through guided meditation.
As smartphones have become more and more ubiquitous in our everyday life, there is no shortage of mindfulness apps in the market these days. In fact, there has been an even greater increase in offerings as a result of higher demand in the last two years.
Choosing the best one has therefore become difficult. To make things easy, we narrowed down our search to some of the most reliable and easy to use apps that are available these days.
Cost: $13/month with seven-day free trial, or $70 annually with two weeks of free trial.
Founded in 2010, Headspace was one of the first mindfulness apps and still remains the best known in over 160 countries for reasons which are easy to understand.
This wonderful app guides you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness on subjects of stress and through whimsical animations, bedtime stories to help you drift off to sleep comfortably.
Cost: Monthly subscriptions with plans starting from $65 per week.
With over a million users, Talkspace is one of the best online therapy sites that connect you with a licensed therapist if you are struggling with mindfulness meditation issues.
Talkspace is an expensive option on this list, but it will give you direct access to a mental health professional at any time through their chat room. You even have the option to change your therapist
Cost: $60-$90 per week (billed every four weeks) or higher depending on location, preferences and therapy availability.
People these days just don’t have enough time for attending counseling sessions and in-person therapies anymore. Even if you are avoiding visiting a counselor, BetterHelp can assist by providing mindfulness training and counseling sessions.
Moreover, the BetterHelp online portal, apart from mindfulness programs, also lets you do catharsis to keep calm and peaceful without shelling out a hefty sum to a face to face therapist.
The Blissful Mind
Cost: Digital downloads from $10-$22 for the complete mind,body and soul balanced guide.
The brainchild of Catherine Beard, this wonderful blog teaches the audience how to achieve peace of mind by developing a positive mindset. She actually educates the user to let go and live life on one’s own terms and conditions.
Cost: monthly subscription fee of $10 which you can cancel anytime.
Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits, believes that living simply and taking progressive steps is the secret to sure success. His blog helps to develop the habit of taking out the clutter from life emotionally and physically.
Zen means a ‘state of mindfulness’ that enhances our ability to connect with the world in the most efficient manner.
Benefits of Mindfulness
While mindfulness means being aware of your internal state and surroundings it helps provide plenty of health and physical benefits as well. Practicing mindfulness meditation will help you reap some great results.
Enhance your sleep.
If you are deprived of proper sleep, it can have a devastating effect on your mind and body.The National Sleep Foundation says that adults should sleep for 7-9 hours every night. Those with sleep difficulties have pointed out that mindfulness meditation impacts sleep in the following ways:
- Improves relaxation
- Impacts awakening by controlling the autonomic nervous system
- Increases serotonin levels and the sleep hormone, melatonin.
If you are finding it difficult to control your weight, practicing mindfulness will help. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation improves eating habits that are helpful in reducing obesity.
Lowers stress levels
Weekly group classes and mindfulness meditation exercises over an eight week period have been known to reduce levels of emotional exhaustion or burnout, stress, anxiety, distress and occupational self-compassion.
In recent years the effects of loneliness, especially in adults over 50, have come to the forefront. Adults who are lonely have a greater chance of health complications like heart attack, dementia, depression and suicide.
Mindfulness meditation also helps to address chronic conditions, enhance your attention span, reduce anxiety and decrease cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.
While mindfulness is all about fully immersing into the present moment and your internal self, meditation is the tool for that awareness practice.
Mindfulness and meditation together are easy to implement and need no accessories and could well be the single best way to supplement your mind and body restoration.