How to Increase Your Mindfulness

May 23, 2019

If you’re looking for stress relief, better memory or increased happiness, meditation and other mindfulness techniques may be your answer.

Mindfulness means being completely present in the current moment, without judgment and distraction. A considerable amount of research has been done in recent years to see the effects of mindfulness and meditation on the body. Studies show that mindfulness causes measurable changes in regions of the brain involved with memory and cognition, and can slow down brain aging. Mindfulness meditation can also help with pain relief, according to a study partly funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

And it’s not just for adults. One study concluded that kids who incorporated mindfulness practices into their day had better emotional regulation and displayed more pro-social behaviors, like willingness to share.

“Mindfulness practice is for everyone. Everyone has the ability,” says Kelly Briggs, administrative director for the Integrative Health & Medicine program at Hackensack Meridian Health. “It’s in all of us, this ability to tap into self-love, compassion and kindness.”

Here are a few ways to get started:

Breathe.

Start by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and breathing deeply. Increase your awareness of each breath, focusing as you inhale and then as you exhale. You may close your eyes to lessen visual distractions. Relax your arms, shoulders and legs while keeping your torso somewhat upright so you can breathe deeply. You can practice for as little as five minutes a day and increase the length of the sessions as you grow more comfortable.

Take a (mindful) walk.

Leave your phone and other distractions at home, and hit the pavement or trail. Observe everything around you, doing your best to block out thoughts from yesterday’s meeting or tomorrow’s chore list. Look at the colors, notice the smells and sounds, and don’t forget your deep breathing.

Practice daily gratitude.

Being actively thankful for the good things in your life can change your perspective. It could be for the house you live in, a family vacation or even a hot cup of tea. To hone this skill, consider a gratitude journal, where you list a few things that you are thankful for every day.

Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine offers mindfulness tools to help focus your mind, relax and live in the present.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.