The idea of practicing mindfulness has gained more popularity in the last decade, so what exactly does mindfulness mean? As stated in "Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies," mindfulness is a combination of "awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of one's moment-to-moment experience" and is found to be a "potentially effective antidote against common forms of psychological distress."
During the fifties and sixties, Eastern influences started to mold more into American culture. Zen Buddhism became a widely practiced spirituality and catapulted the "integration of mindfulness into Western medicine and psychology." Fast forward to the twenty-first century and mindfulness is being studied and supported by reputable organizations in healthcare. The Mayo Clinic, an academic medical center founded in the 1800s, states that mindfulness is effective for decreasing feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, pain, and even high blood pressure. Research has even gone as far to indicate that the art of practicing mindfulness can help those with fibromyalgia, diabetes, or asthma.
Tips on Practicing Mindfulness:
Timing is Key.
Psychology Today suggests to start practicing mindfulness when you're experiencing a pleasant moment.
"Many people get interested in mindfulness as a way to deal with stress or difficult situations, and this is a great idea. However, trying to be mindful for the first time in the middle of a crisis is a lot like trying to score the game-winning goal when you've never gone to a single practice. Don't make it harder for yourself!"
Harvard Health Publishing provides a less "formal" approach to mindfulness. Moments for mindfulness don't have to be complicated. You can choose moments to practice like while you're enjoying a meal, taking your dog on a walk, or touching your partner. Once you've found your moment to practice mindfulness, here are Harvard Health's steps to take:
1. Focus on your body's sensations
2. Inhale through your nose; allow air to fill your lungs completely. While you inhale in, fully expand your stomach. Slowly exhale through your mouth and repeat. "This pattern may slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, helping you to relax. Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation."
3. Continue doing whatever it was you were doing in this moment (walking your dog, eating, touching your partner) and proceed slowly and "with full deliberation."
4. "Engage your senses fully." Enjoy every sensation (sight, touch, sound, taste, or smell)
5. If your mind starts to wander, simply focus your attention back to the sensations that you're experiencing in that moment.
We're in this day and age where people communicate through text. Listening, unfortunately, isn't a required skill for communicating with your connections. Oftentimes, this means that we develop habits where we're hearing people talk, but not listening. Being able to disconnect from distractions and fully listen to others is a great example of mindfulness and it'll make you a better communicator.
Activate your Endocannabinoid System.
Every human possesses an advanced physiological system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This crucial regulatory system is already making cannabinoid-like structures that foster cellular balance throughout nearly every biological system in your body. It helps to regulate your pain, metabolism, mood, and more. When we're stressed, we strain our endocannabinoid system. While you can boost your endocannabinoid system naturally, by practicing mindfulness, moments of meditation or just having a general focus on stress-reducing activities, you can also use plant-derived natural products that work to balance the ECS. Plant-derived exogenous cannabinoids (such as CBD, CBC, CBN, CBG etc) work with our Endocannabinoid System to make us feel more relaxed and stress-free.
To learn more about your ECS, click here.