Mindfulness has been regarded as a possible antidote against stress, anxiety, worry, fear, and other forms of distress. It teaches us how to be present in each moment and put our focus on what is in front of us. There are different ways mindfulness can be practiced, which we will get into later on in this article.
Mindfulness really found its roots in ancient practices thanks to Buddhism, a 2550-year-old spiritual tradition popular in Eastern countries. As it became known in Western culture towards the 1960s and 70s, it’s no surprise that differences between Eastern and Western practices began to unfold. Several researchers have expressed that in order to fully gain the benefits of practicing mindfulness, you must understand these differences.
For example, in Eastern tradition, mindfulness is viewed as one factor of an interconnected system of practices. It needs to be practiced alongside other spiritual practices such as following an ethical lifestyle. Western ideas of mindfulness generally stand independent of any certain ethical code, philosophy, or system of practicing. It is more open to whoever wants to practice.
Another difference is, in Buddhism, mindfulness is taught to be practiced alongside Buddha's teachings. Whereas in Western culture, the focus is put on non-self and impermanence rather than traditional Buddhist teachings.
In Buddhist teachings mindfulness refers to an introspective awareness with regard to one’s physical and psychological processes. This differs from Western mindfulness which is taught in alignment more with one’s individual internal and external experiences including external awareness's such as sights and smells.
Despite the fact that research on mindfulness came into effect in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that it became well known. It began with the research and teachings of Jon Kabat-Zinn who first started to discover mindfulness as a way to help people with discomfort in their bodies. His practices are now known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
Furthermore, research has shown that practicing meditators reported significantly higher levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, and an overall sense of wellbeing.
So how exactly do you practice mindfulness and how do you get started? Let's get into ways you can be more mindful going into the new year.
A small way you can begin mindfulness starts with daily wisdom. Take a pad of sticky notes and write out quotes that inspire you, or simply write words of affirmation to yourself to reflect on each morning.
For example, you could write "always do what you are afraid to do" a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Say the words out loud to yourself and take them in for a moment. Reflect on how that makes you feel and use the words in practice throughout the day. If you come across a task or obstacle that scares you, you can take it on with a little more comfort knowing you are acting on your daily words of wisdom.
It can be fun going through various quotes and gospels that inspire you and writing them out. It may seem tedious but it is all in good practice. Each night replace the sticky note with a new one and take those words with you the next day. Soon you'll have a catalog of wisdom that you can carry with you.
If you keep a schedule or calendar that you look at every day, this is another great place to put words of wisdom. There are certain apps you can download on your phone that will generate wisdom that inspires, as well!
Seek people out who are focused on living a calm and tranquil life. Their wisdom on living may teach you techniques that you can put to practice, such as meditation and mindfulness exercises.
Another major focus you may be curious about is mindful eating. This is particularly important for those who like to snack in order to calm down. Those mindless evenings of snacking in front of the TV can leave us feeling too full and uncomfortable. Mindful eating can change that.
Moments of calm and tranquility don't always present themselves. In the chaos of life among all of our internal emotions, they can actually be few and far between. It's up to you to find the time to create a space where you can be alone to reflect. It's up to you to take these tips into practice and start living a more mindful life.
Staying focused throughout the year may come and go. The best thing you can do is to pick yourself back up when you've fallen down.
If you notice you were doing really well at implementing words of wisdom, moments to meditate, and were practicing mindful eating but suddenly feel you've gotten off track, that's ok! The best part about living a more Zen and balanced life is that you can pick it back up whenever you want.
We hope this blog will inspire you to look into mindful practices going into 2022. Join our Facebook Tribe group and let us know more about your specific health and wellness journey.