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What Is Mindfulness Practice?

If mindfulness is new to you, you might not be 100% sure what it is exactly.  Some people think it's the same as meditation. While you can practice mindful meditation, mindfulness isn't identical. Mindfulness is about slowing down your thinking and your actions; removing the blinders are you walk through you life; noticing the little things; taking time to focus.  Remember the phrase Stop and smell the flowers?  That is the essence of mindfulness. 

The Moment

When you are mindful, you live in the moment and are truly present.  Your focus is not on the past, or on tomorrow, or even on an hour from now.  Rather, you focus on the "now".  How do you feel?  What do you smell?  see?  hear?  Note what is happening around you.  

No More Multitasking

When you practice mindfulness, you focus on a single task, thought, or object without judging what occurs. You observe thoughts or your environment like a witness.
 
You may note your limbs move and stretch as you walk and feel the warm water on your skin as you shower. Or you could follow your breath, just noting the thoughts and sensations that come and go. Some people like to practice mindfulness while they listen to music, exercise, or carry out chores such as shopping or house cleaning.

Getting to Know Yourself

While you are mindful, you notice the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that arise in each moment and accept them without needing to alter them. There's no particular goal other than to let your awareness expand without interfering with your experience. Total acceptance liberates you because you stop criticizing yourself or wanting to change events, and you might find physical tension fades as you let go of stress.
 
Observing your thoughts while you're mindful expands self-awareness. You might spot thought patterns and recognize what drives you. Perhaps you'll note that thoughts about specific topics multiply as your mind comes up with related material. Or, you could realize that certain lines of thought disturb, calm, or excite you.

Mindfulness in Practice

If you practice mindful movement, note that particular activities relax or exhilarate you more than others. Observe your breathing as you walk, stretch, or exercise another way and become familiar with the length and intensity of each breath.
 
Mindfulness seems to slow your thoughts because it involves intense though relaxed focus. The deceleration provides an opportunity to expand your awareness into experiences and see what goes on with more clarity than usual. You're less distracted and may feel calmer.
 
Mindfulness is a terrific practice to aid self-knowledge and resilience. Understanding your inner world brings freedom since you are less fearful about why your emotions arise. Because you witness what you feel, you learn anger, sadness, or whatever you experience is manageable.
 
If you try mindfulness, connect it with a task you already do. Observe physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Let them flow without judging them, and you will learn more about yourself and reap the many other benefits that mindfulness affords.

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