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Woman meditating and practicing mindfulness during sunrise

4 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness – Guest Post By Lexie Carr

There are simple ways to practice mindfulness, increasing your focus on the experience of the present moment.

Mindfulness can be used to treat many health issues including lowering blood pressure, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), addiction, eating disorders and more. This can be done in a number of ways any time, any place. Here are four simple ways to practice mindfulness. 

1. Mindful Seeing

Find a space where you can look outside or perhaps even sit outside. Look around at everything you can see. Try not to label the object, such as a “tree” or “cat”. Notice the details such as the patterns or colours you can see, how the leaves rustle in the trees, people that might be passing by. Imagine you are seeing these things for the first time.

2. Mindful Listening

You can engage in mindful listening either with another person or group, or on your own. 

If you are on your own, you can sit inside or outside with your eyes open or closed, and notice the sounds when you are sitting still and silently. If you are outside, can you hear birds twittering? Leaves blowing in the wind? Savour the sounds you hear, even if they are “mundane sounds” like a car driving past, a kettle boiling, or a distant dog barking.  If there are many sounds happening around you, which individual sounds can you focus on? This can improve the quality of your mindful listening.

If you want to engage in active listening with a group or person, take in turns in doing the following:

  • Offer your full attention to the person speaking to you.
  • Breathe comfortably and make a choice to receive whatever information is coming to you, whilst letting your natural listening responses occur, such as nodding, making small noises or eye contact. This tells the other person they have your full attention. Try to become curious as to what the other person is saying, this is the key! If your own thoughts and assumptions come into your mind while listening, gently try and bring your focus back to a curiosity of what the other person is saying.
  • Clarify by reflecting back in your own words what you have heard from the person. This keeps you from making assumptions and helps you maintain the stance of openness
 
Woman meditating in a forest sitting on a rock

3. Mindful Breathing

Breathing is something that we all do every moment of every day. We all have moments where we take a big, deep breath often without awareness when we are feeling stressed, tired or even bored.  In fact, most of the time we don’t pay attention to our breathing activity, as it comes so naturally. To get more out of mindfulness breathing, set aside three minutes and do the following:

  • For the first minute, try not to focus too hard on the breath, but let it flow naturally in its own rhythm. Don’t force any kind of breathing such as slow or deep breaths. Ask yourself: What thoughts and feelings are arising for me? Attach descriptive words to the experience you are having, while letting your natural breathing occur.
  • For the second minute, focus your full attention on the breath. What does it feel like as it flows into your nose, throat and chest? If thoughts or images pop up distracting you from the breath, try not to block them, just let them come and go while you observe them non-judgmentally. Gently bring your awareness back to the breath for the full minute.
  • For the third minute, expand your attention beyond the breath to the rest of your body. Can you feel your heartbeat change? Are you thinking with greater clarity? Can you notice any other bodily sensations such as the pressure of your hands in your lap, or your feet resting on the ground? At the end of this minute, try and bring your awareness into the space around you.
 
mindful eating

4. Mindful Eating

As you engage in eating, consider how the food looks, its colour and shape. How does It feel in your hand? Does it have skin? Can you squeeze it? What does it smell like? Put it in your mouth and notice the sensation it has on your tongue, and pay attention to the taste and texture. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the food you are experiencing. Take your time.

Meditation

If you want to take your mindfulness practice a step further, meditation is a great way to gain further awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. One of the biggest keys in mindful meditation is to have a curious, non-judgmental approach towards your thoughts. If your meditation is disrupted by thoughts drifting into your mind, gently return to the awareness of the present moment. The benefits of engaging in mindfulness meditation has shown to increase creativity, gain further self-awareness (which can help us become more aware of the needs of others, which can then lead to greater empathy for others), mood stabilization, and it can also improve cognition and memory. For more tips on how to get started read Dr Seema’s post “A Simple Guide on How to Meditate”.

Lexie Carr Biography

Lexie Carr Biography

Lexie has practiced counselling at an Aboriginal Medical Service in the Pilbara, Western Australia for six years. She has extensive experience in family domestic violence, relationship issues, anxiety, depression, addiction, and grief counselling. Lexie is especially interested in neurodiversity and neuroplasticity. Her goals are to help people reach their full potential as an individual, and to encourage others to take a curious, nonjudgmental approach to mental health obstacles.

Lexie began her studies to become a counsellor because of her own mental health struggles, and felt that no one should ever feel alone during their internal battles. She is passionate about taking a non-judgmental approach, and feels that giving time and space to others is one of the most valuable gifts we can give each other. Lexie integrates several therapy techniques when engaging in therapy with others. These include but are not limited to; Mindfulness Coaching, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Tapping and Gestalt Practices.

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