Over the last few years, the concept of mindfulness has taken hold in the west. While many eastern cultures have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for centuries, western countries are just now catching on.
The practice of mindfulness began around 1500 BCE as a part of the yogic practice of Hindus. Around 500 BCE, Buddhists adopted their own take on mindfulness by practicing breathing and deep focus. Certain meditative practices spread to Judeo-Christian leaders throughout the Middle Ages, but it has largely been lost on the common westerner until recently.
Practicing mindfulness has many benefits for both mental and physical health. Physically, it lowers coritsol levels (which lessens stress), improves sleep, boosts your immune system and can even help reduce feelings of pain. Mentally, it can help people manage depression and anxiety, improves focus and helps you feel calmer. In fact, studies have shown that just three days of practicing meditation can actually change the chemical makeup of your brain.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. One of the most common ways is to meditate. Sit or lie down in stillness, focusing on your breath. You can even have a word or mantra that you repeat to center yourself and help you focus. Allow thoughts to come without judging, and then return to your breath or mantra.
You can also be mindful in your day-to-day life. Taking the time to slow down and mindfully experience things can improve the quality of your life. When you’re eating, eat slowly and take the time to savor and appreciate the food. Go for a walk outside without your phone and be present in the beauty around you.
You don’t need to dedicate hours of your day to reap the benefits. Just a few minutes each day, here and there, can have a drastic impact.