The Methods of Mindfulness
- BY: MOLLY GOLDBERG
- Oct. 18, 2016
Staying calm and present in a world of chaos can be a seemingly impossible challenge. Stress is everywhere in 2016. From traffic jams to deadlines, our fast-paced life is bound to stress out almost any adult (unless you live on a hippie ranch with no cell signal). Whether you have a job or you’re looking for one-chances are there’s something in the career slice of your life, big or small, that causes you some level of stress…unless you’re a yoga instructor, of course. Or it could be your love life or lack of one that’s making you worry (unless you’re in a perfect relationship the cynic in me is compelled to tell you that will end too).
Either way, stress is inevitable for 99.9% of the adult world. It’s why funny movies are made and jokes are told…to distract us from our stress and harsh realities.But what if escapism isn’t the answer? What if the best way to not only cope with stress but prevail it is to remain totally present in the here and now. This is what mindfulness is about: the state of being aware of and present in your surroundings. Mindfulness has its roots in early, early Hindu culture (like we’re talking before the Buddha, early), and is now widely recognized and practiced in Western society.
There’s many methods of exploring mindfulness and utilizing it in your daily routine. There is a reason it’s been around for thousands of years. Mindfulness is a simply yet clinically-proven effective way to relieve anxiety and survive stress. Below are a few mindfulness techniques to keep you chill and present, because living in the moment is always the best way.
This one can be done in a variety of ways. From imagery to body meditation, there are so many ways to experiment with it. I find focusing on your breath is one of the most simple but powerful ways to meditate. Just let your breath smooth out naturally and listen to it. Or you can incorporate strategic breathing-sometimes its effective to first chill out with a few deep breaths (inhale 4 counts, exhale 5 counts). If distracting thoughts come just ignore them and let them float away like clouds-don’t get frustrated with yourself if you get distracted from your breath. Guided imagery is another awesomely blissful meditation technique-and p.s. youtube has plenty of awesome ones which work best with headphones. Take ten minutes out of your 9-5 to experiment with a little meditation, and you’ll go far.
Yoga is more than a great excuse to buy new leggings. Do it in a studio or on your living room floor, it’s all good stuff. There are an oxford dictionary of poses to suit beginners and masters alike.
Sadly, bookstores really are a dying breed. Happily, there have never been a more awesome selection of books on that market (why do you think so many books are being made into the movies these days?). Reading is a truly underrated pastime, one that opens the mind but also relaxes it. When you’re reading, you’re at one with a story and no doubt right in the moment.
Perhaps the simplest methods of them all, tuning into your breath is a super-quick way to calm down instantly. Remember to breathe through your belly and not your chest. Try to notice the sensation of your breath as it enters your nostrils and expands through your body. You can also focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen. If your mind wanders from your breath gently guide it back.