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Published on January 7, 2020

How to Practice Mindfulness (A Beginner’s Guide)

How to Practice Mindfulness (A Beginner’s Guide)

Mindfulness is a mental practice. It’s simply being aware of your thoughts, actions, and behaviors throughout the day, in your relationships, and interactions with the world around you.

There are some myths (which will be debunked below) that plague mindfulness as an overwhelming, “fake” attitude toward the typical and harsh realities of life; but mindfulness is simply a turning of attention to the direction in which our mind goes, without judgement.

It’s not wishing we were more positive or happy or friendly with others; instead, it’s a silent and objective observation of your own reactions, which surprisingly, you’re very much in control of! Instead of pretending into your feelings and emotions, and acting from a place of unconscious thought, mindfulness shows you how to remove the blind filters from your behavior, and tune into how you really act and feel.

From this place of truth, you can make changes that are in your highest good. So how to practice mindfulness?

1. Meditation

The most effective way of tuning into your thoughts and feelings is through meditation. It’s a practice by which you can slow down, sit down, and allow the world around you (and within you) to simply pause.

It’s a chance to tune into your breathing, which will automatically affect your nervous system, lower your blood pressure, and minimize any stress you may be bringing into your day. It’s also a chance to tune into your thoughts, and notice the ones that may be bringing you down.

We go through life at an incredibly rapid pace, and we seldom get the opportunity to slow down and listen to our thoughts. Meditation is that pause button we can hit, to acknowledge the quality of our thoughts.

What thoughts can stay and feel good for us to have? What thoughts can go, and no longer serve us? This is the epitome of a mindfulness practice.

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Creating a consistent meditation practice – 3-4 times per week – is a great way of using this tool to its advantage. How long you meditate is entirely up to you; know that even a few minutes per day is serving you well!

2. Affirmations

When life gets hectic and your mind wanders to overthinking and stress, it can be helpful to have a word or a phrase to come back to. This is called an affirmation.

It’s a simple phrase, said in the present tense, that acts as a lifeline to bring you back to not just the present moment, but to the kind of mental state you’d like to be in to take on the rest of your day.

Affirmations are powerful statements that you can use over and over again, whenever needed. You can have a few that you can recycle as the situation calls for it; or you can have one dedicated one that you keep coming back to.

Here is a list of affirmations that you can try. You can also make use of these affirmation apps to find inspirations. When you feel yourself mentally wandering away, pause; come back to your affirmation and say it out loud or to yourself three times. Take a few breaths and notice how you feel.[1]

3. Mindful Walking

Mindful walking is a type of meditation practice that encourages you to truly take notice of how you walk. It’s a great practice to begin to tune into your physical body, and the anatomical contractions that happen on a reflexive level (most of which we’re absolutely unaware of!) It also re-focuses your brain on the task at hand, and keeps it concentrated and disciplined.

Either inside or outside, begin to simply walk. You can walk in any direction, but make the pace nice and slow. Become aware of each step, as you plant your entire foot down onto the Earth.

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Go deeper into your awareness, and begin to take note of how the toes feel as they splay out in your footstep; how the leg lifts and the hips move; how the torso shifts as you balance your walk forward.

All of these simple yet complex movements pull you deeper into awareness of your physical body in space.

Take this mindful approach to the rest of your day. Can you become just as aware of everything else you do that may have been on autopilot?

4. Journaling

Journaling is a practice of writing down your thoughts as they come up. Creating a consistent practice means giving your thoughts and emotions a safe and healthy means of expression.

You may like to sit down at the end of your day and journal about how you felt, what came up, what brought you challenges, and what brought you joys. It’s a practice that pulls you into the present moment, and gives you a platform on which you can analyze your thoughts and dissect your feelings into something deeper:

How does it feel to be vulnerable and honest in your words? What emotions come up as you jot down your thoughts for the day? And can you begin to see these little snippets of truth and revelation without judgement?

One of the myths of a mindfulness practice is that it promotes a sense of “fake positivity.” We think that by meditating, journaling and speaking loving affirmations to ourselves, we’ve somehow covered up feelings of sadness or struggle that we undoubtedly face as human beings.

But beginning a mindfulness practice allows us to face these moments of hardship without being too harsh or critical on ourselves.

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With meditation and journaling as some of our tools, we can allow ourselves to be sad or angry, but know that we have a choice in how long we stay there… which brings us to another practice tool.

5. Acceptance

Life is not always going to be easy to love. We can say the same for ourselves and our loved ones.

One of the founding pillars of a solid mindfulness practice is allowing yourself to simply accept every emotion that comes your way: be that sadness, anger, apathy, confusion, and the like.

Feel all the feelings. They’re a part of you.

While some are not pleasant to endure, they teach you how to accept all parts of yourself that make up the whole. It’s not just a practice of mindfulness; it’s a practice of wholesome self-love, because you can’t only love the pretty, neat, easy parts of you.

Mindfulness teaches you how to welcome all feelings and thoughts without judgement or criticism. So the next time you’re feeling hard on yourself and are in a tough spot, allow the emotions and thoughts to rise up. They simply want to be seen. Imagine them like a sea of clouds on a bright, sunny summer day. See each of them come into your view, and then with your breath, watch them float on by.

Just like clouds, our thoughts and emotions are temporary. They don’t define us, much like clouds don’t define an infinite summer sky.

Keep coming back to this practice any time you feel overwhelmed and self-judgmental.

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6. Mindful Eating

Our eating routine has become synonymous with distractions: watching TV, talking with friends, working, etc. We no longer just eat.

Mindful eating is just that: a chance for you to get really aware of what and how you’re nourishing your body with food. Not only will you begin to enjoy your food even more (now that you’re aware of it), but you’ll be able to chew longer (which processes the food fully and actually helps you prevent overeating) and taste the food you’re enjoying.

Next time you’re having a meal, put away all distractions. Turn off your TV, put your phone away, and sit down to be fully present with your food.

If possible, eat in silence. It’s a game-changer! Chew your food fully, and notice the smells, tastes, and appearances of what you’re eating. This food is nourishing your body and going into your system, so become more curious about it and how it benefits you.[2]

Final Thoughts

Beginning a mindfulness practice doesn’t have to overhaul your entire life’s routine. It simply asks you to become more aware of your thoughts, actions, and behaviors throughout the day. If you’re aware, you can implement changes that are for your highest good.

Through tools such as meditation, mindful walking and eating, journaling, and affirmations, you can rewire your brain’s default setting that’s stuck in struggle, to a way out of complacency and into mental and emotional freedom.

The key is in accepting yourself as you are, and taking that awareness approach deeper with tools that are always at your disposal.

More About Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lua Valentia via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on November 13, 2020

10 Habits To Cultivate To Attract Positivity in Life

10 Habits To Cultivate To Attract Positivity in Life

If you want to attract positivity in life, you have to become that which you seek—positive. Positivity doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Instead, it means that you find the good no matter what. You wake up thinking each morning is a miracle, and you interact with everyone with love and light.

Positivity means having an optimistic attitude. When you have this, you step forward in confidence in anything you do. You see possibilities, not problems. You see opportunities, not obstacles.

Positivity has its benefits, too. According to Mayo Clinic, it largely has to do with stress management, reduction of depression, and increasing life span. You will cope better, be more prone to live healthier, and come out stronger from any situation.[1]

But sometimes, it is easy to find yourself feeling negative if things don’t go your way. Positivity doesn’t downplay the hardships of life. Instead, it helps you build resilience and bring up others around you. When you are positive, you are saying “yes” to life and receiving so much more than you would have otherwise.

Positivity in life starts in your mind. Think positive thoughts, and you will attract positive energy. Breathe in the possibilities and positivity, and breathe out the limitations you perceive you have. Then, you will find yourself a new person.

Here are 10 ways you can attract positivity in your life.

1. Give

Giving makes you happy and healthy, according to the Greater Good Magazine. It is also highly contagious![2] What you give, you get back.

There are many ways you can give. You can support someone, reach out, listen, be kind, choose to show up for something you believe in, care about a cause, make a difference in some way, donate, teach, change a life, give a compliment, lead others, spread awareness, and motivate others to do good.

Giving is about anything that you can do to make someone’s life easier or reduce an ailment experienced by many. By giving in any way, you can find positivity everywhere because you are taking part in creating it. Change the world.

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2. Believe in Yourself

If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Start to see your good qualities and attributes, even making a list of them.

What about yourself do you want to change? What has improved? If you can see any progress or make goals about yourself, you have the ability to do anything. If you underestimate yourself, you will play small. But if you see the potential in yourself, you will become positive—and others will see it, too.

If you can’t believe it, act as if you do. Stand tall anyway. Good will come to you eventually because you’re ready to receive it.

3. Forgive

Holding onto resentment can be very detrimental to feeling positive. It’s very unhealthy to remain unforgiving. Yet, forgiving does not mean “allowing.” Instead, it means learning to “release.”

You do not hold onto the negative feelings anymore, so you can heal. And you also can forgive yourself for anything in your life that you hold onto. Blaming yourself is a part of being human. Everyone does it and engages in negative self-talk. But if you forgive yourself, you can learn to start over.

Some days, you will be able to forgive yourself and others. Other days, not so much. It can come and go in waves. However, it’s your intention that matters. If you intend to forgive, you may receive healing.

Even if you can’t always muster it, just having the intention is enough. You will feel better afterward. So, if you can’t forgive, remind yourself to just intend it. You may feel forgiving eventually.

4. Gratitude

Some people would do anything to have what you have. Your younger self may be relieved at the point you have gotten yourself into.

Gratitude is a mindset, and it can bring positivity to your life. Make a list of what you have. What around you can you feel appreciation for? Can you recognize the good despite the bad? That can make you stronger.

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When you can set down the burdens and look at the beauty of things, you will have a new mindset—one of positivity. That is something no one can take from you. So, just be here—be present, and be still.

Practice mindfulness. Notice what you normally neglect. Then, things will feel okay again.

5. Let Go of Expectations

What expectations are you holding onto about yourself and your life? Are you living in a “should” mindset? Are you constantly thinking about what you should be doing and where you should be versus appreciating where you are right now?

This does not mean lowering your expectations. It just means letting go of expectations—expecting the best but not needing it to look a certain way. In this, you find freedom from negative thinking and fear-based living.

When you can set yourself free in that way, you can let go and let yourself live. Maybe things don’t always work out. Expect setbacks sometimes. But know that that’s part of learning and growth. Stay open, and positivity will flow through you.

6. Look for the Silver Lining

Is there something good that has come out of a difficult situation? Can you see the stars in the night sky? If you can, reach for them. That light has to do with gratitude and also persistence in seeing the positive in things.

You just have to believe that there is always good in this world. You may not see it right away, but it is there. Look for the silver lining. Instead of thinking, “This negative thing exists in my life.” think, “I am the positive person this situation needs.” Then, you will change it all around. You are the silver lining.

7. Surround Yourself With Positivity

If you’re surrounded with positivity, you too will start to let it seep in and become positive! Positivity in life involves being surrounded by positive people and things.

Is there anything in your life that is holding you back? Maybe it’s a toxic situation or relationship. Maybe it’s your own mental traps where you fall into a rabbit hole of negative thinking. Whatever is spiraling out of control, if you fear you cannot change the situation, it’s time to change yourself.

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Step outside of yourself and your life for a moment. Do you see the possibility of looking outside the box or even destroying the box? If you decide that you will not allow certain things in your life anymore, you will let in the right things. Surround yourself with positivity, and you’ll become the person you are meant to be.

8. Stay Healthy

It’s time to evaluate your daily habits. Are you drinking enough water? Are you eating healthily? Are you getting exercise? What about your mental health? Are you talking to someone about your feelings? Are you doing some sort of cathartic activity to let out negative energy? The list goes on.

Staying healthy starts with taking care of yourself. Self-care shouldn’t be a chore. So, find activities you enjoy doing. In negative situations, do what is called “radical self-care.” This means spending time with yourself doing what you love as much as you can.

Sometimes, you need to separate yourself and find some joy. Instead of spending your time scrolling through social media, go outside and breathe in the fresh air. You never know what can happen once you make a positive choice.

Little things have a ripple effect to turn into big things. All it needs to start is with one action. Face what you can and cannot control, and do what you can because all your choices matter.

If you feel sluggish, eat more veggies and do some cardio. If you feel lonely, make plans with someone. You see, there is always something that you can do to stay healthy.

9. Smile

Smiling activates the amygdala, and that releases neurotransmitters that make you happy![3] This is something that can change your life. You cannot have positivity in life if you can’t even do a simple smile.

Just by smiling, you “trick” your brain into thinking happy thoughts. When you smile at someone else, they are more likely to smile too—also making them happier. Smiling doesn’t just spread positivity, it also makes you more attractive to people and therefore, more social.

It seems like such a small thing because it is, but it has a big effect. You can draw in the right thoughts and the right people just by smiling. Who knew you had such power?

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10. Think Positive

Of course, the way to feel positive is to think positively. Thoughts inform feelings. You have primary emotions or natural reactions to an event. Then, you have secondary emotions that stem from a belief about the event that happened.

For example, if you fail a test, you may think, “This makes me a failure.” But it’s just a setback. True resilience is utilizing positive reframing to tell yourself that you are not defined by what happens to you.

Often, people blame themselves for bad situations. If you had been robbed, would you blame yourself or the other person? The obvious answer is the other person. Yet, you tend to also blame yourself. You may think, “If only I had been smarter or somewhere else, this would have never happened.” This creates a buildup of negative emotion.

Just by releasing the wrong thoughts, you can burst the positive ones. That’s why thought is so important. This is also a practice done in cognitive behavioral therapy.[4]

How realistic are your thoughts about a situation? Is there evidence for your thoughts? What is a new thought or belief that would be more realistic?

By challenging your thoughts, you can become more positive. Once you learn to manage your thought patterns, you can start to see something important: No matter what happens, you have the choice to think positively.

Conclusion

Positivity in life keeps you focused, motivated, and happy. It stops negative thoughts from taking over, and it leads you to be all that you can be.

Maybe now you can give yourself permission to be positive. After all, it’s a choice that is up to you. You decide what you do with this one life. Are you going to live it facing down or looking up at the sky?

More Tips to Maintain Positivity in Life

Featured photo credit: Thought Catalog via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress
[2] Greater Good Magazine: 5 Ways Giving Is Good for You
[3] Ladders: The science behind why smiling can literally make you happier
[4] Psychology Today: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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