Being Mindful of Every Moment in the New Year
By Vanessa Gonzalez
Mindfulness is rooted in the Buddhist tradition, yet it has become wildly practiced in recent years and has gained a lot of recognition in various treatment modalities. According to the CDC, meditation practice has increased more than threefold in America from 2012 to 2017. As research continues, more and more evidence supports the positive effects of mindfulness on one’s overall wellness.
What is Mindfulness?
While mindfulness sounds like an easy enough concept, it can be a very challenging skill to utilize at the moment properly. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present to what you’re doing, the space you’re moving in, and what’s happening around you. However, it’s easier said than done. Typically, what ends up happening, our mind takes over, we lose touch with our surroundings, and we’re engrossed in intrusive thoughts rather than being mindful of the task at hand.
Yeah, mindfulness is simple to grasp, but we live in a world where productivity and work are of utmost importance, and as a result, we are seldom fully present. We may be multitasking, several things at once. Or, when we are doing one task, we aren’t fully present on the task at and our minds shifts to other million things we do that day. A significant element of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is mindful awareness. Mindful awareness teaches us that there is a difference between being mode and doing mode.
Being mode is when you:
- Acknowledge your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors
- Accept your thoughts, and feelings and simply let them go
- Your focus is on self-awareness rather than on pursuing or achieving goals.
Doing mode is when you:
- Take actions to achieve a specific goal
- Adopt a problem-solving approach
- See difficulties or painful experiences as things that you must do something to change rather than simply as experiences to acknowledge
- Move on to the next challenge rather than stop and appreciate where you are, good or bad.
So, we are in being mode when we are fully present of what’s around us involves awareness and openness to observe things from a qualitative perspective. In doing mode, we are mostly busy and logical thinking of things from a quantitative perspective. However, you don’t have to be “doing something,” specifically to be in doing mode. We can be in doing mode by simply lying down in bed, but our minds are racing to the millions of things we need to do.
Both being and doing mode serve their purposes but being mode can help us grasp the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being fully present and accepting what is happening in the moment without judgment. Although it may be difficult to observe our experiences without judgment as we instinctively do, it can be done if we practice this skill.
Research has shown that there are many benefits to mindfulness. For example, it can help reduce ruminating negative thoughts that lead to higher stress, depression, and anxiety. In addition, it can reduce cell damage, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, bolster the immune system, improve your overall concentration and performance, and help people overall improve their emotional regulation skills in a healthy way.
Some ways to Practice Mindfulness:
- Body scan meditation. Lie on your back in a relaxed pose. Focus your attention on each part of your body from head to toe and be aware of any sensations that might arise.
- Sitting meditation. This may be hard for some people, but this is a great way to practice being fully present. Sit comfortably with your back straight and focus on your breath moving in and out of your nose. When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, and let them move on like a leaf on a stream. Acknowledge it, and let it float on.
- Walking meditation. Begin to walk slowly in a quiet place you enjoy. Notice your breath as you walk, the sights, the sounds, and how your feet feel with each step. You might be amazed at how amplified your walks become.
- Accept yourself. As your friend would accept you.
- Live in the moment. Find joy in the simple things, even the mundane things. Try looking at everything with an open, non-judgmental approach.
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