Do you want to be more present in your life?
Less reactive, flexible, calmer?
Able to navigate challenges with greater ease?
More resilient in your roles?
Capable of pausing to soak in the good stuff that's happening?
Mindfulness is a tool, a practice, and a way of life that will help you cultivate all of these qualities and so much more.
While learning mindfulness isn't difficult, it's not easy to practice and fold into everyday life. We've compiled a handful of resources here to help you get started and to support you along your journey. Just like exercise, if you do a little bit every day, the results are huge.
It's extremely rewarding and life-changing for many people. Besides, who doesn't want a fit, flexible, and super resilient brain? Yes please!
We hope you can create some time to give it a try and if we can offer any initial advice, it's this: go gently, be kind to yourself, get curious, and enjoy the ride.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
At its core, mindfulness is about being fully present and in touch with our life experiences as they are unfolding. More specifically, it’s defined as: paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, and in a non-judgmental and kind way. Through consistent mindfulness practice, we can train our minds for greater happiness and meaning, develop our inner resources for resilience and joy, and feel healthier and far more fulfilled across the board.
Mindfulness can be practiced formally with meditation and informally (on-the-go) in our daily lives when walking, eating, washing the dishes, drinking coffee, driving, having a conversation, etc. Just like exercise or learning a new instrument, mindfulness is a skill we can develop over time with a little bit of practice each day.
How can mindfulness change my life?
Thousands of neuroscience studies now demonstrate how daily mindfulness can actually change the structure of your brain for the better and help you proactively take care of your mental AND physical health. Some amazing benefits include:
One of the greatest benefits of mindfulness is that it can help you shift out of autopilot and become more tuned into your experiences. With awareness, you have much more agency to make choices that support resilience, wellbeing, and happiness for yourself, your family/friends, and everyone around you.
For example, on autopilot, you may be unconsciously holding a lot of tension in your shoulders, hands, or abdomen or taking short breaths as you rush from one thing to the next. Mindfulness helps you notice this habit and begin to consciously relax and take deeper breaths throughout the day. Not only will your body feel better, but you’ll feel calmer and more capable of meeting the demands that arise.
Similarly, mindfulness helps you bring awareness to your internal environment. If you’re upset or frustrated or fearful, you can tend to those feelings earlier on before they become explosive reactions that cause even more harm or stress. Mindfulness also helps with sleep. Ruminating or feeling anxious before bed is a very common autopilot experience for most people. With practice, mindfulness can help you learn to gently release negative or ruminative thinking and pave the way for a deeper, much more restorative night’s sleep.
At the end of the day, mindfulness is about being fully present in our lives so that we can meet whatever is happening with greater equanimity and resilience AND also find greater joy and ease. It’s a practice that can be learned, an innate capacity that can be developed, and a way of being that can become your new operating system – less reactive, more grounded, and capable of making wise choices in the face of adversity. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the key leaders to bring mindfulness into Western medicine, says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” This is exactly what mindfulness does. It teaches us how to surf the waves of life, from our personal frustrations and losses to a global pandemic. Oh, and it teaches us how to fully enjoy the ride, too!
Mindfulness 101 Videos
I Can't Stop My Thoughts!
Eyes open or closed?
What Mindfulness is NOT
I can't meditate because I can't stop my thoughts.
It's actually rarely possible for ANYONE to stop their thoughts, even seasoned meditators. In meditation, you're not trying to stop your thoughts. Instead, you're learning to notice, work with, and relate to your thoughts (and your mind) more skillfully, in a way that supports your wellbeing.
Mindfulness is totally "woo-woo" and not for me.
It's common to think of meditation as a magical, mystical, far-out practice. However, practically speaking, meditation is as useful and normal as exercise (and now there's plenty of science to prove it). Meditation is all about becoming more awake, aware, and in tune with whatever is happening in your life. You're not trying to escape reality. Instead, you're training your mind to be less reactive, calmer, kinder, and more focused so you can meet life's ups and downs with greater ease.
Meditation = relaxation.
Meditation can be incredibly relaxing – AND, that's not always the case. Relaxation is often by-product of practice, but if you go into meditation trying really hard to relax, you'll trip yourself up (like trying really hard to fall asleep). Our minds and nervous systems are used to busyness and activity, so sometimes slowing down feels strange and uncomfortable. Be patient with yourself and know that if you don't feel relaxed, it doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.
I have to sit like a pretzel and hold completely still.
Nope! You can sit in a regular office chair, lie down on a floor or sofa, or even stand up. Some people also enjoy practicing mindfulness while walking. In short – there's a posture for everyone, and the most important thing is to find a position for your body that feels stable, comfortable, and alert. While holding still can help calm your mind, it's also 100% okay to make adjustments to your posture as you need to during your practice.