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Have you ever thought about how we use and rely on our mind every moment of the day, but often spend very little time on how to take care of it?

Practicing mindfulness provides a scientifically proven way for us to help take care of our minds, reduce stress and improve memory and cognition and might be the key to unlocking a calmer, more focused you.

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being fully present and engaged with what we're doing. Free from distraction or judgement. It's about being aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

You might think of it a bit like finding the eye of a storm in a wavy sea. Whilst things in your daily life moves frantically, whipping about you. Your mind is able to sit back observe, appreciate and decide what course to set to best ride the waves.

This practice isn't just about quiet meditation. It's a tool that we can use in daily activities to help ground and centre us. Mindfulness offers a way to savor each moment. It fosters a deeper connection to our experiences. You can use it while eating, walking, or simply breathing.

In this article, we'll dive into the benefits of mindfulness. We'll also show you some simple, but effective techniques. They will help you add mindfulness to your routine. We'll also explain the science that shows its positive effects on our health. Join us as we explore how this ancient practice can offer modern solutions to our busy lives.

The benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness has benefits in many areas. Studies show a big impact on mental well-being. This includes better concentration and memory. It also includes lower stress, anxiety, and depression.

Research shows that mindfulness practice might also reduce pain and fatigue. In people with chronic pain. Early research shows mindfulness may boost your immune system. It may also help you get over a cold more quickly!.

How does mindfulness work anyway?

Researchers think that practicing mindfulness can help your body. It can reduce the body's response to stress.

Stress significantly affects our bodies. Chronic stress can change our thinking. It weakens our immune system and causes other health issues. Practicing mindfulness reduces our brain's stress sensitivity and our body's reaction to stress. This can improve our health.

People also report that mindfulness helps them think more calmly and clearly.

Illustration of a boy looking calmly down into clear water as his thoughts float by

How can I practice mindfulness?

The good news is that there are many ways to practice mindfulness. You can do structured daily meditation. Or, you can do activities throughout the day or even now! So it’s easy to find something that works for you.

To practice mindfulness, you start by focusing on simple things. For example, you can pay attention to your breathing or listen to sounds around you. This helps your mind stay in the present moment. As you get better at mindfulness, you'll become more aware of what's happening in your body and around you. Sometimes, your mind might start to wander and think about different things. That's okay. Mindfulness teaches you to notice these thoughts without getting lost in them. Think of it like sitting in a boat on a clear lake, watching your thoughts float by like fish under the water.

But before we start, I want to talk about something that always confused me. It's what people mean by "practicing mindfulness"! I think of practicing mindfulness in two parts. First, there is the “practice” where you teach your brain ways to be more mindful and present. This means being less caught up in thoughts. You do this using techniques and exercises that we will go over soon. And then there is the putting into practice. Throughout the day, you and your mind find it easier to be present and mindful. You are less caught up in thoughts or emotions. And like anything this becomes easier over time and with, and yes with practice.

Guided meditation

Guided meditation is a common way to practice mindfulness. This might be done in a class environment, audio track, video or apps. Some common apps in this space are Headspace and Calm. Our app, Flowpaper, also aims to augment these apps. It offers people a different way to practice mindfulness. This is done through guided meditation and creative tasks.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can be an easy and accessible way to practice mindfulness. You can follow a structured exercise such as the 4-7-8 Breath. Or pick something simpler. For example find a comfortable space. Then, sit and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Bring your awareness to the present. Notice your breaths and how it feels. Notice the rising and falling of your chest. The rhythmic sounds of air moving in and out of your body. And notice the thoughts and feelings as they move through your mind. Don't try to get rid of them, but also don't dwell on them. Remember, this exercise is about being present. Simply setting aside 5 to 10 minutes a day to do this can have a huge impact.

Body scan

The body scan is a mindfulness meditation technique. It involves paying focused attention to different body parts in a sequence. You start from the toes and move up to the head. This practice is designed to raise awareness of the body and the present moment. It helps reduce stress and improve focus. It also enhances overall well-being.

Mindful drawing

Have you ever doodled on a post-it or book mindlessly? Drawing exercises can be another great way of practicing mindfulness. These can include activities. For example, filling a page with "mindful circles" or other abstract patterns. The key is to start drawing without a goal. Instead, let yourself become aware of the act of drawing. Feel how your pen feels on the paper. Notice the lines and colors. Feel how your body and hand move as they draw. But again not to plan or worry about what you're drawing, just to be present in a moment of drawing itself.

How long do I need to practice mindfulness?

You don't need to spend a lot of time to see the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness for about 5 minutes each day can help. It gets easier over time and improves our ability to be mindful throughout our daily lives if done often.

For example, a typical guided mindfulness session is 10 minutes. To see lasting effects, it is recommended to do one session a day. After just one session, you may feel calmer. But, research shows that your brain takes about 8 weeks to learn this new habit.

How can I give it a try?

We suggest jumping in and experimenting to find a method and a time that will work for you. That could be just after you wake up. The house is still quiet with a hot drink steaming next to you. It could be listening to nice music or a mindfulness session in a quiet place during your lunch break. Or a chill out session with Flowpaper before you go to bed.

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