Mental Health Matters: Being mindful takes you a long way

The art of being mindful has been receiving the recognition it deserves in the last few years. According to Mindful, a nonprofit organization, mindfulness is defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

While this may seem like a simple task, the truth is, a lot of us aren’t truly mindful in our everyday lives. We often drift from this mentality because of stressors from our daily lives, jobs and what goes on around us. When things don’t seem to be going our way, we often get upset, are reactive and decide to see the worst in what is happening. However, if we were to be mindful, things would go differently. Being mindful takes us a long way.

According to Mikaela Rizzo, a graduate student in the NSU doctoral program for psychology and involved in the NSU Student CARE Team, “Mindfulness looks different for each person… Here’s the thing, it is not what you are doing. It is how you are doing it. We can bring a mindful approach to anything we are doing.”

A lot of us would like to be mindful, but don’t know how and where to start. One way to practice mindfulness is to become aware of your breathing. By focusing on your breathing and getting comfortable with taking strong, deep and slow breaths, you become more mindful of yourself and begin to notice not only body sensations and emotions, but also your senses.

Once aware of yourself and your breath, it becomes easier to become aware of what is happening around you and you become more present with the present moment. Living in the moment and intentionally bringing an open and accepting attention to to everything you do helps you to achieve that way of being.

“My mother found herself being mindful while doing yoga and [doing] breathing meditations. I found my mindful experience in weightlifting… Something that helps me to be mindful is to view it as a way of being rather than an activity. I try my best to exercise mindfully, eat mindfully (the most difficult one for me) and study mindfully. It is easy to become discouraged when your mind wanders to [the] things on your to do list or you feel like you do not have time to slow down,” said Rizzo.

Mindfulness is often split into three components: intention, attention and attitude. When practicing mindfulness, your intention is what you hope to gain, whether its discovering your true self and nature, reducing stress and discomfort or having a greater emotional balance. In order to do this, you must pay attention to not only everything going on outside of yourself, but inside as well. Lastly, you must have the correct attitude about everything aforementioned and bring attention to your attitude. In order to be mindful, you have to be able to accept and let go of all your thoughts and emotions and be in the present moment.

“What helps me [to stay mindful] is to remember we are perfect just as we are, accept [ourselves] as we are and recognize [that] observation and awareness are parts of being mindful… Self-compassion is a huge component of being mindful… Sometimes, when people try something new, they decide to go all in, and if it takes more effort than expected, it is easy to become discouraged. Consider letting go of expectations and [practicing] mindfulness for short durations and gradually increase the amount of time… I highly recommend looking up mindful breathing meditation or body scan meditation videos on YouTube; follow along in a quiet and comfortable space…There are [also] countless free apps out there for guided mindfulness practices. I recommend downloading a few and finding which one is the best fit for you.” said Rizzo.

To be mindful is not one set-in-stone activity. It can be different for everyone, yet always yields the same results: becoming aware and present of yourself and everything around you. .

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