We hear the term “mindfulness” all the time, but what does it really mean and how can it help you manage your body, thoughts and emotions? Our Yoga Studio Manager, Paige explains a little bit about what it all means and how mindfulness in your life can reduce your stress levels.
How mindfulness practice can help you manage stress
Mindfulness is being in the moment and cultivating self-awareness and intent in everything we do, say and create. Being mindful is a learning process of how to see things how they are within the present moment, without judgement and act with intent rather than reacting. By bringing awareness without attachment allows us to have a clear and content relationship with ourselves, others and everyday experiences.
There are four key foundations of mindfulness. Because everyone is a unique individual, depending on your energy levels, stress, emotional wellbeing and preference will help determine which mindful practice may best suit you to incorporate in everyday life.
Listed below are the four foundations of mindfulness and how they can help decrease and manage stress:
1. Mindfulness of breath:
When feeling overwhelmed it is easy for the mind pile up of the tasks that need to be done. By bringing awareness to the breath we can help calm the nervous system by recognising each inhale and exhale as a focus point. This is a create technique to not only slow the breath down but create self-awareness to stay in the present moment.
2. Mindfulness of the body: sensations
Recognising sensations in the body and following them. Not ignoring any uncomfortable, painful or pleasurable sensations but instead acknowledging the experience happening within us. As we soften and relax the sensation and observe our reaction to it. By bringing conscious awareness to sensations in the body we are able to create knowledge of the emotions behind the feeling. For example, a hot flushed face may indicate you are stressed and overwhelmed, while butterflies in the stomach can indicate you are nervous and feeling anxious.
3. Mindfulness of emotions
Taking time to bring stillness and patience to acknowledging an emotion, what ever the emotion may be. Perhaps we are feeling anxious about all the tasks that need to be done. By simply sitting with that anxious emotion and by giving it our full and non-judgemental attention, we can start to understand why we are feeling this way. Improving our self-awareness of recognising emotions and how we relate to them to start cultivating skills to deal with emotions that may be causing suffering.
4. Mindfulness of thoughts
Bringing conscious awareness to your thoughts and being the observer of the thoughts.
Recognising any thoughts that may be reoccurring, past or future thoughts that may be disturbing our lives, but like a third eye watching the thoughts without involvement. By observing the mind state non-judgementally, we can gain a clear indication of thoughts that may be causing us mental pain and suffering.
Studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice has many benefits including:
- stress reduction- by lowering cortisol levels
- decreased anxiety- activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps lower blood pressure and heart rate
- increased self- awareness- taking time to recognise how you feel in the present moment
- increased productivity and attention span- research has shown increase in cortical thickness in the hippocampus which supports learning and memory.
Whenever you are feeling a bit stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, by just taking 5 minutes to practice one of these mindfulness techniques can lead you to feeling energised, calm and clear.