What is mindfulness and how can it help me?

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You may have seen adult colouring books pop up in stores everywhere, and you may have even heard the word ‘mindfulness’ floating around in your day-to-day. Yet you’re skeptical about how colouring in could really be more than just a trend made for adults who want to relive their youth. Well, think again…

What exactly is mindfulness?

Mindfulness brings ancient Eastern philosophies into modern Western culture, and focuses on living in the present moment with an unparalleled sense of awareness and a nonjudgmental attitude. Mindfulness means training your mind to be in the moment no matter what’s going on in your daily life. It can have a hugely positive impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.

OK, but so-called health experts have been telling us for ages that meditation is good for our overall health. So how is mindfulness different?

Think about it this way: we’ve been told to meditate by closing our eyes, counting our breaths, and letting our thoughts float by us. We’re not meant to linger on those thoughts and feelings, but are merely meant to let them pass. This basic meditation technique actually makes you a bit mindless, don’t you think?

The art of mindfulness meditation, which brings you to a state of mindfulness, focuses on not just what is going on around you in each moment, but also, most importantly, what is currently going on in your mind. You’re able to really think and be with your thoughts, as opposed to letting them float by, for them only to resurface later on because you haven’t properly dealt with them yet.

So how can mindfulness benefit me as a student?

If you’re like most uni students, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Your life is hectic and your focus is probably on getting through your to-do list day in, day out.  Adding mindfulness meditation to your daily routine will help you take stock of yourself and your tasks, and will give you a well-deserved break from the daily grind. Spending just a few minutes a day on mindfulness meditation also has the ability to improve your mental health, which will help you complete tasks efficiently and assist your capacity to tackle stress. It has also been said to lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve your sleep and help stomach problems.

What are the easiest ways to practise mindfulness?

The best thing about mindfulness is that it doesn’t have to cost you much at all. Your wallet will thank you, and so will your mental and physical health. And before you say you’ve got too much going on already, here are a few tips for practising mindfulness that won’t waste your precious time:

Spend two minutes every afternoon doing mindful meditation. Focus on what you can smell, hear, touch, taste and see around you. Try using the Smiling Mind app to assist you with this.

Buy a journal and spend a minute every morning and a minute every evening writing down what you’re grateful for.

Purchase one of those colouring books and try colouring in whilst on your daily commute or in your bed before falling asleep.

Before you know it, you’ll be a mindfulness expert and you’ll see a huge improvement in your focus, energy, and positivity.

Bridget Conway

Bridget is a poet, writer, editor and critic currently residing in Sydney. She loves her cats, Star Trek, writing about mental health, and cooking vegetarian food. Check out her daily musings on her blog

Image: Justine ReyesFlickr Creative Commons license