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What is mindfulness, and what are its benefits?

Mindfulness, on the most basic level, is exactly what it sounds like: maintaining a present awareness of our thoughts, feelings and sensations from an objective lens. It focuses your mind on the matter at hand through a number of practices like breathwork, guided imagery and a dedication to remaining in the present.

Mindfulness is beneficial for addressing feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and more. By remaining present and focusing on breathing in and out, it can help stop spiraling thoughts in their tracks. One popular mindfulness method used to quiet the mind is to slowly count down from ten; every time your mind wanders, start your count over again. This practice is a lesson in patience, focus, discipline and remaining in the present.

Why does mindfulness work?

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Between working full-time, shuttling kids to school and sports and tending to your relationships, mindfulness often falls low on the priority list. Ironically, practicing mindfulness is one of the most effective methods of calming the feeling that life is moving quickly around us while we’re struggling to keep up.

When the core principles of mindfulness are engaged – being present in the moment, focusing on your breath, slowing down – your way of thinking begins to shift. Once-stressful situations like getting dinner on the table on time will slowly begin to feel more surmountable once you are able to pause, understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, prioritize tasks and act intentionally. Over time, you will no longer feel like you’re rushing to make dinner after work and being resentful about it. Rather, you will see it as providing delicious nourishment for yourself and your family, and you won’t stress if it takes a few minutes longer than you had planned.

Can I pair mindfulness with other kinds of treatment?

Mindfulness as treatment makes an excellent accompaniment to other forms of mental health treatment. In congress with existing treatments like therapy and medication management, mindfulness is known to be beneficial for a number of conditions, including:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Vascular disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Hypertension
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Stress
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Insomnia
  • Eating disorders

How can I incorporate mindfulness into my daily life?

Once you make an effort to practice mindfulness every day, it’s easy to begin to incorporate it into other rituals and systems of yours:

  • Mindfulness and yoga. Mindfulness is a tenet of yoga, even if it is not explicitly stated. Whether you practice yoga in a studio or at home, you likely practice mindfulness without realizing it, such as when you are:
      • Focusing on holding a pose
      • Adjusting your hands and feet
      • Chanting mantras
      • Controlling your breath
      • Flowing through a vinyasa
      • Contemplating the meanings of Om and namaste
      • Forming mudra positions
      • Resting in savasana
      • Practicing gratitude
  • Mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is essentially a form of meditation, so it can serve as a solid foundation for other types as well – including sound baths, insight meditation, body scans, breathwork, qigong meditation, reflection and mantra meditation.
  • Mindfulness and exercise. Like yoga, incorporating mindfulness into your exercise routine will help you be more in tune with your breath and physical sensations. Mindfulness is particularly important in running, as one must continuously listen to their body, forget about meeting any timing expectations, pace their breath and shed off the weight of the day to facilitate feelings of lightness.
  • Mindfulness and eating. Certain eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, that are characterized by overeating while in a trance-like state. On a less clinical level, it is all too easy to finish a bag of chips without realizing it or reaching for a candy bar in the grocery store checkout line, especially after a long day.
  • Mindfulness and relationships. It may be a cliche, but it is difficult to have an accurate understanding of who your partner, family and friends really are if you do not have a similar understanding of yourself. Investigate what makes you tick, what is meaningful to you, what is a must-have in your relationship and then ask yourself if you can answer those same questions about your loved ones.
  • Mindfulness and culture. Your family likely has traditions that you practice or foods that you eat, and if you’ve been doing this your whole life you probably haven’t thought much of it. Consider doing some research on the practices that are important to you and your culture, and meditate on how much you feel truly connected to the tradition and how much of it is simply going through the motions.

Silvermist Recovery believes that a holistic approach to recovery is the most effective approach. We offer a range of treatment options rooted in mindfulness, including – art therapy, yoga, meditation, recreational therapy, outdoor therapy and biosound therapy. Reach out today at 724-268-4858 to speak with a licensed professional about how you can incorporate mindfulness into your life.