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Health & Wellness: Practicing Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the concept of being fully present with what is happening in the moment. When practiced regularly, as part of routine, mindfulness is proven to be effective at improving physical health, improving sleep quality and reducing anxiety and increasing clarity of thought. During these uncertain times, incorporating a regular mindfulness practice could greatly improve your quality of life and help you sustain a mindset that allows you to take advantage of the hidden opportunities within the current situation.

How can you practice mindfulness?

The good news is, mindfulness is available to all of us all the time through mindful moments, meditation, and mindful breathing. This may sound about right to some people, to others it may as well be double Dutch – but don’t worry, there are some really great podcasts, playlists and books to help you get on the right track. The best way is to jump straight in with short guided mediations, you can find on YouTube. If you are new to mindfulness, initially you are looking to increase your awareness of the present moment – to get out of the planning for the future and worrying about the past, a mindset that the fast-pace of life tends to keep us in. Your best future will emerge from doing the best you can with what you have now. So do your best with the present moment and most of the things you worry about will never come to pass.

How to increase awareness

The breath is your anchor. If you focus on this, you’re always present. You can’t get back a past breath, nor skip forward to a future one. It’s also the link to your physical body so it puts you in touch with your other senses. Try a guided breathing meditation or a short body scan to increase your awareness. There are some great Irish outlets like Mindfulness.ie and Mindfulness Clinic.ie that have a range of guided sessions and courses available for free.

If you are looking for a more stepwise guide through the mindfulness process, increasing in level, consider a mindfulness app like Headspace and Calm. These will bring you through meditation practices from simple to advanced.

When should you practice mindfulness?

Whenever you can. All you need is time, safety, and a quiet space. The HSE has some further information that might be worth a look to help get started on the path.

Remember, mindfulness is not about getting rid of thoughts or being calm all the time. It’s about distancing yourself from the ‘auto-pilot’ that many of us live a good chunk of our daily lives in, and instead, living each moment.

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