Simply put, mindfulness is about being in control of your mind, rather than your mind being in control of you. It is the ability to be fully present as we go through our daily activities and during profound or challenging experiences — a skill proven to be very useful during trying times.
“When you practice mindfulness consistently, you literally change your brain. Neurons that fire together, wire together,” says Lynn Northrop, PhD, supervisor of psychological services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “By paying careful attention to your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, you ground yourself in the present moment and that’s really great, because that’s the only place life happens — in the present moment. And when you bring nonjudgement and self-compassion to that, you have a recipe for resilience and a more meaningful life.”
There are several ways to practice mindfulness. They key is increasing your awareness of both your mind and body, and what is going on in both. Try these three mindfulness activities to get started.
3 easy mindfulness activities
1. Breathing activity
- Standing tall or sitting somewhere quiet and comfortable, focus on your breathing.
- Breathing in completely, notice and follow the sensations of your breath coming in.
- Let your attention settle into your center, at the bottom of your breath and at your solar plexus, also known as the pit of your stomach.
- Keeping your attention at your center, exhale, breathing normally and maintaining attention.
2. Sensory activity
- Lie on the grass.
- Look up at the sky and watch the clouds roll by.
- Feel the grass with your fingers and the air on your skin.
- Notice the firm ground supporting your whole body.
- Smell the air, the grass and the earth.
- Listen to the sounds of the birds, wind blowing through the trees and other activity around you.
3. Physical activity
- Take a mindful walk, walking without any purpose or intention other than the walk itself. You can walk in nature or an urban area, in a beautiful park or a supermarket parking lot.
- Practice noticing each step and breath you take.
- Keep your steps slow, relaxed and calm.
- Stay in the present moment and try not to allow your thoughts to drift throughout the entirety of your stroll.
Learn about mental health services at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and read important COVID-19 information from Sharp.