How Mindfulness Literally Rewires Your Brain for Present Moment Awareness (and How You Can Practice It)

You’ve probably heard about “mindfulness” before. Maybe you’ve downloaded an app, or you’ve read an article claiming its benefits, but you still don’t quite understand how it works.

Do you have to levitate above a cushion to make it work? Is there even a right way to do it?

Mindfulness is certainly popular, but the good thing is you can do it in any moment. Including this one right…now.

The three words that define mindfulness.

The three words that guide any mindfulness practice: present moment awareness. It’s that simple, but also difficult.

Our brain can be so powerful and useful, but it can also be so easily distractable. If you’re like most people, whenever you try present moment awareness, the mind inevitably wanders off. A worry, a thought, a memory…just like this, the ‘now’ is gone.

How to strengthen your mind muscle.

However, the good news is that each and every time you become AWARE that the mind has wandered, and bring it back to the present, you are strengthening your ability to be mindful. You can do push ups for your arm muscles, squats for your leg muscles and mindfulness for your mind.

We don’t need t get angry when our mind wanders off however. All we need to do is ease our attention back to the present moment, with some patience and some love.

A mindful practice you can try anywhere, anytime.

There’s a good reason that many mindful practices involve the breath – we can do it anywhere we go! You might be with familiar with yoga, politates or tai chi which are breath-based activities. But you can also tune into your breath in a mindful way.

When you’re feeling frazzed or just need to check into the present, start with a long,deep breath. Just notice how it feels to expand the lungs, the rush of air in and out. Already, you’re telling your nervous system that you’re safe and it starts to relax the mind.

Next, we are going to observe the environment. Observation is different to thinking, because our thoughts can become noisy.

To truly observe something is to bring an attitude of curiosity.

Now, the next exercise is to start list for yourself: Five things you can see with your eyes, feel with your skin, hear with your ears, smell with nose and one thing you can taste with your tongue. This is a great way to get in touch with the senses and just be.

If you start to do this exercise daily, your mind will become more accustomed to engaging in the present moment, and it’s also a great way to calm yourself down.

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.

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