We talk often about practicing mindfulness. But what does that really mean?
Mindfulness is the quality of being present and wholly engaged with whatever we’re doing in that moment — completely free from distraction or judgment, and fully aware of our thoughts and feelings of that moment without getting caught up in them. It’s a skill that requires training and practice. As we teach our minds to be present, we are also teaching ourselves to live in the present, and to not be beholden to reactive thoughts and feelings — which can be particularly useful when we are confronted with challenging situations. Growing research is showing that when we train our brain to be mindful, we’re actually remodeling the physical structure of our brain. The key is to practice every day, even if in very small ways. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and personal body scans, or even in practices as simple as taking the time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it right away. As you practice being fully present in a moment, allow any judgmental thoughts that come up to roll past you, but also remember to be patient with yourself and your naturally wandering mind. Whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back to the present moment.