Mindfulness is your superpower.
Sadly, the hustle and bustle of today’s world promotes more mindlessness and less mindfulness.
However, with focus and intention, you can reconnect to your inner calm.
Over time, the components of mindfulness can improve how you think, feel, speak, and act.
As a result, you’ll experience less stress and more peace.
Are you ready to embrace the mindfulness within?
This in-depth article discusses the benefits of mindfulness, along with some practical steps to become more mindful.
Let’s get enlightened!
What Is Mindfulness vs Mindlessness?
Mindfulness is the ability to live in the moment with intention and purpose, free from the judgement of yourself and others.
When you’re mindful, you are curious and strong, you suffer less, and you make better choices.
Mindfulness the compass that guides you on the stormy seas of life.
Ultimately, it shapes your awareness and your values, helping you to become your best self.
Mindlessness, on the other hand, is a judgemental, fear-based state of being.
When you’re in a state of mindlessness, you are in survival mode.
Instead of happiness and joy, physical survival is your main focus.
In the battle of mindfulness vs mindlessness, which do you think will help you live your best life?
Chances are, you already know the answer, yet most people live in mindlessness until the day they die.
Don’t let this be your fate!
Next, let’s take a closer look at how to develop mindfulness…
How You Can Develop Mindfulness
No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, you can become more mindful.
How do you do it?
For starters, you cultivate mindfulness ever-so-slowly, like carefully stacking rocks on the beach.
Monks develop mindfulness by tending to zen gardens and making gorgeous images with colored sand.
Meditation, however, is the main technique to develop mindfulness.
You may have heard of mindfulness meditation before, and we’ll talk more about it later on in this article…
For now, all you need to know is that meditation is one of the key components of mindfulness.
Mindfulness practice is any habit or activity that puts you in the moment and closer to love.
Some mindfulness practices steady your attention, while others develop compassion and help you cope with stress.
Breathwork, for example, takes just a few minutes, and it can work wonders on anxiety.
The point is that anyone can become more mindful, regardless of how busy they are.
In a sense, mindfulness is a bit like exercise.
You can’t expect to become faster, stronger, or more flexible overnight.
However, if you run, lift weights, and practice yoga every day for several months, progress will come.
Speaking of yoga, it is another powerful tool for cultivating mindfulness.
Research shows that both yoga and meditation can: (1)
Create a state of relaxation
You might be wondering, “But if I take a breather and slow down, won’t I fall behind?”
Actually, this is a common misunderstanding about mindfulness.
In reality, only your mind slows down and you’re ultimately able to get more done in less time.
Mindfulness Meditation and the Power Within
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Let them float by, like snowflakes in the blizzard of life.
The stress and joy of life can be loud and blinding — or it can be a howling symphony of passion and joy.
Ultimately, the ups and downs are what help you grow.
When you practice mindfulness meditation, you develop faith in the process.
Your struggles are the tools of growth, and rage and despair make way for love and hope.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done…
When it comes down to it, not all who meditate are mindful.
However, mindfulness meditation can be one of your first steps in the right direction.
Next, we’ll dive headfirst into your new meditation practice…
How to Meditate Anywhere
Believe it or not, mindfulness meditation isn’t as strict as you might think.
In fact, you can meditate just about anywhere…
On the bus
In the subway
In the morning
Late at night
Early in the afternoon
…you name it, and you can meditate there.
Meditation starts by getting into a comfortable position, either cross-legged, in a chair, or laying down.
It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re comfy and cozy.
Once you’re settled in, direct your focus to the breath.
Feel the airbrushing against the roof of your mouth, down your throat, and into your lungs.
Release the exhale, allowing the tension in your shoulders, chest, and back to float away.
For the next 10 to 20 minutes, let yourself think and feel whatever comes naturally.
You don’t have to do anything fancy, like concentrating on an object or repeating a mantra.
Instead, just embrace where you are and how you feel.
Set aside judgemental thoughts and become one with your emotions.
If you’re on the train, listen playfully to the rattling wheels and the people next door.
With that said, a noisy environment probably isn’t the best place to start a new meditation practice.
Instead, set your alarm 10 minutes early and take advantage of the morning stillness.
If you want a little help along the way, there are plenty of guided meditation apps to choose from, like Waking Up with Sam Harris. (2)
Before you know it, you’ll be meditating like a pro!
10 Components of Mindfulness
As it grows in popularity, it’s important to understand the many components of mindfulness.
After all, the journey will be long, and it helps to know all of the amazing benefits coming your way, like:
Longer attention span
Now, let’s take a closer look at the components of mindfulness and the glowing future that lies ahead…
1. Greater Self-Awareness
The core component of mindfulness is self-awareness.
This involves every aspect of the human experience, including:
The most important of these, however, are your thought patterns, because they set the stage for your habits.
In mindlessness, unconscious thought patterns can turn into self-destructive habits.
Before you know it, months, years and decades pass by without getting any closer to your goals.
However, mindfulness can develop self-awareness and transform your habits into productive ones.
For example, a 2015 study found that “Meta-awareness, perspective-taking and cognitive reappraisal, and self-inquiry may be (important components of meditation) that may be used to target states of experiential fusion, maladaptive self-schema, and cognitive reification.” (3)
In other words, say goodbye to racing thoughts and say hello to deeper intentions!
When you’re existing in mindlessness, on the other hand, it’s easy to develop blind spots in your awareness.
Fortunately, mindfulness brings these back to light.
As you expand your awareness, you can get out of your head and respond to life more appropriately.
2. More Self-Esteem
Inevitably, the self-awareness you gain is destined to boost your self-esteem.
More often than not, it’s the hidden thoughts and feelings that cause the most turmoil.
However, once you get them out of your blind spots, you can start to accept yourself with open arms.
Tai chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that shares many of the same benefits as meditation.
In a study of 21 women with breast cancer, researchers found that tai chi improved self-esteem better than social support sessions. (4)
At the same time, a separate study concluded that a mindfulness meditation program can reduce loneliness. (5)
By helping you get to know yourself, mindfulness can be a great starting point for many positive changes.
3. Fights Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Soon enough, your new and improved self-image melts away anxiety and depression.
What makes mindfulness so darn effective?
Researchers think it has to do with reducing inflammation in the brain.
Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines can increase anxiety and depression.
However, several studies suggest that meditation may treat depression by reducing these chemicals. (6)
Ultimately, less inflammation leads to healthier activity in parts of the brain related to positive thinking.
Inflammation is also closely linked to stress.
In fact, stress is one of the most common reasons why people start practicing mindfulness.
When it comes down to it, emotional stress triggers the production of inflammatory chemicals.
In an 8-week study, researchers found that mindfulness meditation can significantly reduce the inflammation caused by stress. (7)
4. Improves Body Regulation
One of the reasons why mindfulness has such broad benefits is through body regulation.
Can you fully relax your muscles on demand?
What about your breathing?
And can you use your breath to calm down during moments of stress?
Unfortunately, the majority of people can’t.
Luckily, mindfulness helps balance your state of arousal.
When you’re anxious, agitated, or can’t fall asleep, mindfulness meditation and breathwork can keep you grounded.
The secret is that deep breathing and muscle relaxation tells the nervous system to chill out.
This is one of the reasons why yoga is such a powerful mindfulness tool.
Yoga teaches you how to regulate your breathing and control your body.
Ultimately, this can have a profound effect on mental health.
5. Improves Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important factors for your health.
All-in-all, it greatly affects hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain.
At the same time, sleep is when the brain and body repair damaged cells.
Unfortunately, nearly half the country struggles with insomnia at some point.
However, studies show that mindfulness-based programs can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. (8)
A big reason is that mindfulness redirects racing thoughts that can cause insomnia.
Plus, mindfulness meditation relaxes the body and releases tension, signaling the brain that it’s time to sleep.
6. Improves Focus and Attention
The modern world is filled with social media that weakens your attention span.
If you spend more than an hour a day scrolling through social media, chances are your attention span is suffering.
Once again, mindfulness comes to the rescue.
As it turns out, mindfulness may reverse the brain patterns associated with worrying and poor attention.
For example, a recent study observed the effects of an 8-week mindfulness course.
Researchers found that the participants improved their ability to redirect and maintain their focus. (9)
7. Reduce Pain
Do you or someone you know suffer from a chronic pain condition?
Thankfully, mindfulness can be a powerful tool for retraining the pain response.
With chronic pain diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, the response to pain can become deeply ingrained in the nervous system.
Even after the original cause of the pain passes, the nerves may continue to fire.
But this is where mindfulness meditation comes in handy.
Studies show that it can reduce pain signals in the brain and treat chronic pain.
For example, one study found improvements after just 4 days of mindfulness meditation. (10)
They noticed less activity in the areas of the brain associated with pain.
A separate study found that meditation can reduce pain in patients with a terminal disease. (11)
8. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
Memory loss is a common health issue for older adults.
Thankfully, mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation can improve memory and help keep the mind young.
For example, a review of 12 separate studies found that meditation can improve memory and mental quickness in older adults. (12)
Even more impressive, mindfulness meditation may be able to help dementia patients.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that meditation can partially improve memory and control stress in some patients. (13)
9. May Help Addiction Recovery
Addiction to drugs and other self-destructive habits can destroy lives just like any other disease.
However, the mental discipline developed through mindfulness practices may help them break free.
Ultimately, mindfulness improves awareness of what triggers the urge to use.
At the same time, it strengthens self-control.
Research shows that meditation can control the emotions and impulses that cause addictive behaviors.
For example, one study on 19 recovering alcoholics found that meditation can reduce cravings. (14)
Studies also show that meditation may help control food cravings and emotional binge eating. (15)
10. Can Generate Kindness
Most importantly, mindfulness can spread infectious kindness throughout the world.
In the end, living your best life comes down to the meaningful connections you make.
An analysis of 22 studies on kindness-based meditation found that it can increase your compassion towards yourself and others. (16)
Ultimately, the more self-love you have, the more compassion you have to spread.
Mindfulness Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Okay, it’s time for some practical tips on putting the components of mindfulness into action.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the details of your thoughts, feelings, and habits.
The good news is, you already have all of the mindfulness tools you need right at your fingertips.
Use the following tricks to add little doses of mindfulness throughout your day.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation is absolutely the most important mindfulness technique there is, and it deserves one last shout-out.
Remember, start small with a single 10-minute session every morning.
After you get some consistency, go for longer sessions or consider adding one before you go to bed.
2. Ditch the Phone
Your phone has another name — it’s called a “portable mindlessness machine.”
Every time you open up a social media app, your mindlessness skyrockets and your mindfulness plummets.
With that said, it is possible to use your phone mindfully.
When you go to open an app, make sure to set your intention beforehand.
How long will you be on and what will you do?
Set a firm limit, then log in.
However, if you’re having a rough day, the easiest thing to do is to leave your phone in another room.
After all, you don’t need your phone when you go to the bathroom or sit down to eat.
Instead, just do your business or start eating.
Take the time as a moment to reflect and be mindful.
3. Go for a Nature Walk
On its own, walking is great for the brain.
Putting one foot in front of the other reduces stress and anxiety.
Plus, research shows that it’s especially important for the brain as you age. (17)
However, the sights, sounds, and sensations of nature have even bigger effects on stress and anxiety.
Together, walking and nature are an unstoppable mindfulness duo.
So get out there and feel the wind against your skin!
Just make sure to leave your phone at home.
4. Keep a Morning Journal
Journaling isn’t for everyone, but many people find that it’s a great way to set your intention for the rest of the day.
Ask yourself, what are you grateful for and what do you want to get out of the day?
For example, you can set an intention for your physical health and promise to hit the gym.
You might be surprised at how easily journaling can help center your mind.
5. Turn Household Chores Into a Mindfulness Break
That’s right, even chores can be a great opportunity to be mindful!
Instead of getting stressed with all the clutter, take the opportunity to play some meditative music.
If you’re feeling more upbeat, crank up the dance music and boogie-down.
Whatever you do, choose music that doesn’t have lyrics so that you can connect with your own thoughts.
However, even a brief moment at the fridge is an opportunity to take a few deep breaths.
If you have any more questions about the components of mindfulness, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about mindfulness and mental health.