What is Mindfulness and why is it so important?

Mindfulness is being fully aware, conscious and present in the moment. You can practice being mindful at any time throughout the day, by focusing your awareness on what is occurring right now.

Try this quick exercise to experience being mindful in the present moment:

Take a few deep breaths.
Focus on your body as a whole.
Breathe into yourself as a whole, grounded, breathing, living being.
Now begin to scan each part of your body, beginning with your feet and ending with the top of your head.
As you focus on each body part, recognize if you are holding onto any tightness or tension.
Breathe deeply into each area that you feel tightness, and on your exhale, feel your body relax.
Continue the body scan until you have full attention to each part of your body.
Once you have completed this, you should feel more relaxed and at ease.

Congratulations! You mastered what it means to be mindful in the present moment. Notice that during this exercise, the focus was on your body and what you were feeling. You were not focused on nagging thoughts or how much you must accomplish today. This is the goal of mindfulness.

It is natural for you to have thoughts that come up, even when you are practicing being mindful and staying in the present moment. The key is to observe your thoughts, without judgment, and allow them to pass naturally. Basically, this means that if you have a negative or anxious thought, allow it come and go, without dwelling on it.

I incorporate various mindfulness techniques, in my work with clients, because this practice brings about the following benefits.

• Significantly reduces anxiety and stress
• Limits negative self-talk
• Decreases catastrophizing (always jumping to the worst conclusion)
• Limits repetitive and obsessive thinking
• Allows you to live in the present moment
• Increases joy

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