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Practicing mindfulness

July 25, 2016

Do you ever get to the bottom of a page and have no idea what you just read because your mind was wandering? While the book may be interesting, you find yourself worrying about the future or dreaming of the past? Come back to the present moment with the simple practice of mindfulness. 

Photo credit: Jane Cornwell on Flickr

Mindfulness is the state of awareness to what's happening around us and within us at any given moment. It is that "aha" moment when we realize we haven't been paying attention and bring ourselves back to the present now. It is when we stop to notice our breathing, the smell of our coffee, or the hum of the air conditioner. This state is available to us at any time of the day if we choose.

Being mindful also means that we are judgment-free of what is occurring. As thoughts and feelings arise, we simply observe them without naming them as good or bad. When we accept the present moment we avoid unnecessary dissatisfaction and suffering.

By physically altering the structure of the brain, a routine practice of mindfulness can increase positive emotions, improve memory, and help us focus better. Mindfulness is a very effective tool for coping with stress and anxiety. Living in the present moment allows us to connect more deeply with others and to respond with compassion more easily.

Check out the following beginner-friendly resources to get started. And if your mind wandered while reading this post, I won't judge you. Celebrate the moment when your attention returned. That was mindfulness!

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Elizabeth Roth

Elizabeth coordinates the Be Well at NPL initiative. You may spot her walking or biking around Nashville, or asking too many questions at one of the health and wellness programs at your branch.