October 14, 2022

Introduction to Mindfulness 

Sadaf Ghasiri

Introduction to Mindfulness & Meditation   

  

What Is Mindfulness?  

The practice of mindfulness entails embracing the present and grounding ourselves in the current moment, with a non-judgmental awareness of our surroundings and our physical and mental/emotional state. Research has shown that mindfulness can be utilized as a technique to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and anyone can benefit from practicing mindfulness!  

  

How to Practice Mindfulness  

Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as taking a moment to breathe or pause to re-center your attention, or it is incorporated as a more official practice such as a guided meditation in your daily routine.  

  

Focus On Your Five Senses  

By stimulating and noticing your 5 senses, including sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste, you are drawing your attention to the present moment, as well as your environment and current experiences.   

Try these 5 senses exercise to practice mindfulness:  

  

Five Senses Exercise:  

1.      Notice5 things you can see. Try to be aware of your environment and focus on something you usually don't notice, perhaps something colorful or oddly shaped.  

2.      Notice4 things you can feel. Try to feel the texture of the items around you and notice their different qualities.   

3.      Notice3 things you can hear. Sometimes closing our eyes can help us focus on what we are hearing, whether that be the laundry machine in the background or birds chirping outside.  

4.      Notice2 things you can smell. Try to draw your attention to the smells around you. Perhaps smell a candle on your dresser or go outside to smell the fragrant leaves on a tree.  

5.      Notice1 thing you can taste. Try to find something to taste, it can be a drink or even a small candy and notice your experience of tasting the flavors.  

   

Get Some Movement In!  

Exercising and increasing blood flow can be a great way to release endorphins and draw your attention to the present moment. You can incorporate a full workout regimen into your routine or simply take a stroll outside. Walking outside and noticing your surroundings, breathing in the fresh air, and being aware of the present moment can restore a sense of calm and peace in our chaotic lives.  

  

Focus on Your Breathing and Meditate  

Sometimes breathing shallowly for extended periods of time(which can be done unconsciously) and not taking deeper breaths to increase oxygen intake can produce anxiety-like symptoms. Try to take a few moments every day to draw your focus and attention to your breathing pattern and slow your heart rate. For any breathing meditation, make sure you are seated comfortably, with your back straight. Either soften your gaze or close your eyes and become aware of your limbs, where they are, what they are pressed against, and feel the overall tension in your body. Try to release that tension with every breath. It's okay if your mind wanders during meditation, just become aware of your thoughts with kindness, and re-center your focus on your breath.   

Try this breathing meditation exercise called Belly Breathing:  

  

Belly Breathing Exercise:  

With one hand on your belly, take a deep breath in through your nose to fill your stomach and feel your hand get pushed outward, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and on your exhale, release the air from your mouth and use your hand to push the air out. Repeat 3 to 10 times. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.  

  

Incorporate little moments of mindfulness throughout your day to feel the clarity and benefits of being present, such as when you are cooking, washing dishes, or even folding laundry. Research has shown that mindfulness can increase compassion, empathy, focus, and optimism, as well as improve the immune system and quality of sleep. Try to utilize mindfulness with a kind, non-judgmental, and curious approach to your thoughts and feelings. You may be surprised by the results!  

  

  

References:  

https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/  

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-mindfulness  

https://medcenterblog.uvmhealth.org/wellness/physical/mindfulness-mindful-monday-exercise/  

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255  

  

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sadaf Ghasiri is Psychology Intern under the Agape House at the Thaddeus Resource Center. She is a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a major in Psychological and Brain Sciences, and a minor in Applied Psychology. She is currently applying to multiple programs in Counseling and Clinical Psychology, with hopes to gain licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist!