The Benefits of Mindfulness

By Siana Ramos, Reporter

How are you feeling right now? What kind of thoughts are you thinking? Just by answering those questions, you are practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is often defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

We all lead busy lives and it’s easy to get caught up in our routines and forget to take a moment to really acknowledge what’s going on within ourselves. It can be extremely beneficial to take time every day to think about what you’re feeling. Let yourself notice the things that are going on inside of you. An important part of mindfulness is to not only acknowledge what you’re feeling and thinking, but to do so with love and acceptance.

We often beat ourselves up for feeling sad, angry, scared, or any sort of feeling that is usually viewed as negative. But those feelings are just as important as the more pleasant feelings and there’s no need to judge ourselves for having them. Mindfulness is about allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we’re feeling without judgement. To pause, bring awareness to ourselves, and allow ourselves to be truly present with whatever it is we are experiencing.

Do you ever have those days where you feel like everything just passes you by because you’re so focused on school and work, etc.? Sometimes we spend so much of our energy being stressed out about certain things that we forget to stop and enjoy the present moment. It’s easy to forget how to be present when we are always thinking about the next assignment that’s due, the meeting we have to go to, what we’re going to make for dinner, and everything else that could be on our minds. Personally, being mindful has really helped me thoroughly enjoy my days even if I have a lot going on. For example, if I’m walking back to school after eating lunch off campus and I have a million things on my mind, it’s extremely helpful to take a few deep breaths, and look at everything around me. I notice the trees, the flowers, the people, the sky, I just take it all in and allow myself to enjoy my walk back to school and actually experience it rather than completely miss it.

There are lots of ways you can practice mindfulness. Simply noticing sensations in your body is one way. Whether something is hurting, itching, warm, or cold, allowing yourself to notice what your body is feeling can be really helpful. Pausing and paying attention to what thoughts come into your head is another way. Let thoughts come in, acknowledge their presence without judgement, and let them pass. Noticing sights, smells, sounds and touch is another way to cultivate mindfulness. Listening to what’s around you, smelling it, seeing it, or touching it can really help you bring awareness to what’s going on in this moment, right now.

There are many benefits of mindfulness. Scientists have found that it can help relieve stress, improve sleep, and reduce chronic pain. Being mindful can help you enjoy things more thoroughly because you’re allowing yourself to truly be present while also helping you feel and express your less pleasant feelings in an accepting, healthy way.

Different things may work for different people but the key is to simply allow yourself to feel, think, and experience without judgement. You are a living, breathing, being and you deserve to take time to feel and experience the present moment.