Mindfulness is the Mental Fitness Your Body Needs
The concept of mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. You see it mentioned in self-help books, wellness blogs, apps, and social content across loads of different platforms. This widespread exposure might make it seem like mindfulness is just another trendy buzzword, but the significance of it all lies beneath the surface.
If you haven’t explored mindfulness yet, chances are you might be eye-rolling the people promoting it as this game-changing, life-altering practice. And I get it. It’s really hard to see something as being that groundbreaking without having stepped into it yourself. But sometimes the simplest things can be a path to profound understanding.
Let me just say that mindfulness is not a quick fix or something to check off a to-do list. Thinking so means missing out on its deeper, transformative potential. As a mindset transformational coach, I’ve seen how easy it is for people to see mindfulness as a superficial concept. But the more they explore it, the deeper they go in appreciating the fundamental aspects of it as a habit-forming, intentional practice.
So, indulge me. Before you write it off, let me give you my thoughts on mindfulness in a way I bet you haven’t heard before and why it’s so monumental to your life’s journey.
What is Mindfulness?
Essentially, mindfulness is mental fitness. It’s the practice of training your mind to stay focused, calm, and present amidst life’s noise and distractions. Where physical fitness builds a strong body, mindfulness builds a resilient mind that masters clear thinking. When you think of it this way, you can see how both are equally as important. You can’t have one without the other.
Mindfulness involves being fully aware of your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and the world around you. It’s not about trying to fix or change anything, it’s about observing and accepting things as they are in the present moment. Doing so develops a heightened awareness of the mind-body connection. When we become attuned to our thoughts and emotions, we start to recognize how they manifest physically in our bodies and the way we show up in the world.
Why People Avoid Mindfulness
Skepticism aside, it’s hard to sit with your thoughts when you’re so set in your ways and used to constant mental activity. The idea of quieting the mind and staying present may feel daunting. You might be used to quick fixes and immediate results. Formal mindfulness is a practice that takes time, discipline, and consistency, which often deters people looking for instant gratification. (But mindfulness can be informal, too, and we’ll talk about that in a bit.)
If you’re resistant to change, mindfulness is not always easy to embrace at first. Mindfulness involves examining your thoughts and behaviors and it can be uncomfortable to face your inner struggles, fears, or negative thought patterns. Taking this road can bring buried emotions and unresolved issues to the surface, and it might be difficult to confront these emotions due to potential overwhelm.
What Does Mindfulness Do?
Many of us are stuck in repetitive patterns of thought and behavior, often driven by past experiences or future worries. Without mindfulness, we may not even be aware of these patterns. Mindfulness helps us break free from these cycles by shining a light on them. Once we see them clearly, we can make conscious choices about whether they serve us or need to be adjusted.
One of the main principles of mindfulness is the idea that everything in life is constantly changing. This awareness allows us to let go of attachments to fixed outcomes and rigid beliefs. Instead, we learn to embrace the ebb and flow of life, making it easier to adapt and transform when necessary.
Mindfulness also encourages self-compassion. Through this practice, we learn to treat ourselves with the same kindness and understanding we would offer a loved one. When we make mistakes or encounter challenges on our path to transformation, self-compassion helps us navigate them with greater ease and resilience.
Why is Mindfulness Essential for Moving Forward?
Mindfulness equips you with the mental and emotional tools needed to navigate life’s challenges with clarity and resilience so you can move forward. It helps you clarify your goals, values, and intentions, ensuring that your actions align with your true desires. Through mindfulness, you gain better control of your emotions, reducing stress and enhancing your ability to handle challenges without being overwhelmed or getting stuck.
Practicing mindfulness can also help you break free from unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors, assisting you to make different choices and steadily progress toward your goals. It supports your resilience, enabling you to bounce back from setbacks and learn from those experiences. You learn to accept change, freeing yourself from resistance so you can make smoother transitions.
3 Easy Mindfulness Practices to Get Started
No one goes jogging for the first time and shoots for a 5K, and the same goes for practicing mindfulness. Like physical exercise, mindfulness can be simple and accessible. You might already be doing it.
Remember when I mentioned informal mindfulness? Well, informal mindfulness is just a matter of taking a moment in time to be intentionally present. This could be done while taking a shower, washing the dishes, or petting your dog. As long as you are aware of your presence, you’re practicing mindfulness.
Here are three easy mindfulness practices for those who have never dabbled in this type of mental fitness before:
Mindful Breathing: Find a quiet space to sit comfortably and focus your attention on your breath. Breathe naturally and simply observe your breath without trying to change it. When your mind wanders, gently bring focus back to your breath. Start with just 3-5 minutes a day and slowly increase the duration of time. Think focused attention, observing without judgment, mind-wandering management.
Intentional Walking: Take a leisurely walk in nature, whether it’s in a park, a forest, or along the beach. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and sensations around you. This practice can help you connect with the world, clear your mind, and keep you in the present moment. Think sensory engagement, connection with nature, and mindful movement.
Observational Body Scan: Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides and close your eyes. Focus your attention on your toes and work your way up, giving notice to each part of your body. Doing so will help you become more aware of your body and release physical tension. Think progressive awareness, tension release, and intentional observation.
With these techniques, you can train your mind to be fully engaged in the experiences you have. Over time, these practices help build the capacity for mindfulness in daily life, fostering greater awareness, presence, and well-being.
If you’re still feeling like the process seems a bit too scary, or superficial, to begin on your own, reach out to me. After coaching over 500 people to move forward with their lives, I’ve used mindfulness concepts for years to support my clients. I can support you, too.