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How mindfulness can help in tough times

Last updated 1 month ago by Michael Darmanin

With corona virus cases rising and the Netherlands government releasing advisories to stay home as much as possible, that uncomfortable feeling is back. While for some this means being locked at home, for others it could mean not meeting family and friends. The challenges don’t end here. Some people are also concerned about retaining jobs, others are frantically looking for one, and almost everyone is worried about their health as well as the well-being of their family.

Given the prevalent uncertainty, one thing that can help us is mindfulness. In this piece we simplify the concept of mindfulness and tell you some easy ways to practice it.

Photo credits: Mamta Banga

What is mindfulness?

In simple terms, mindfulness means being in the present state – without checking messages on phone, without thinking about what your boss or boyfriend or girlfriend or anyone thinks of you, without thoughts of past or future. It is simply the most basic human ability all of us can practice at any point in time. It’s merely engaging in the present without any judgment, simply being aware of how we are feeling, but not building a story around it. Just letting things and thoughts be as they are without interacting with them.

How does mindfulness help?

Have you ever spoken to someone suffering from a terminal disease? Or read their experiences?

You probably might not have paid attention (read not being mindful), that there’s one common thing about all these experiences. When someone knows they are about to die, they experience more, which means everything becomes more vibrant. The sky looks bluer than usual, food tastes more sumptuous, and hugs feel warmer, and so on. It’s not because they’re dying, but because they become mindful, which means they are more present in every second, every minute of their time.

Photo credits: Conscious Design on Unsplash

The term, however, is not new, it is a technique taken out from Buddhism text aiming to create a state of ‘bare awareness’. And as Buddha states mindfulness is ‘a way to happiness’. Several research studies time and again have proved that mindfulness not just helps in de-stressing, reducing anxiety and depression, but also helps in overall well-being.

Easy tips and tricks to practice mindfulness

You do not need an entire day, or a few hours, to practice mindfulness. You can begin with five minutes, and exceed up to 10-15 minutes if you like the outcome. Since mindfulness is the state of being aware of your present, you really don’t need to do much. Although there are several mobile apps with guided mindfulness meditation, we would recommend you to follow it based upon your personality. For instance, if you are someone who is always busy on your smartphone, or laptop, we would recommend you to not depend upon technology. Here are some tips that you can follow:

  • You can sit for five minutes in a comfortable position, on a chair, or use a cushion keeping your back as straight as you can manage. This isn’t a very strict practice, so all you need is to feel comfortable. Relax your jaw and your shoulders. If you’re sitting on a chair, keep your feet on the ground, and this will also help you elongate your spine.
  • You can keep your eyes open, or closed. Just try what works best for you. Sometimes with closed eyes, we tend to think more. You can try this with open eyes, it might work better.
  • Pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel pain in some part of the body? Just pay attention to that part and continue breathing.
  • Do not fight with your thoughts, if they arrive. Let them come, and go. Try not to interact with them, or build a story around them.
Photo credit: Fabian Moller on Unsplash

Mindfulness doesn’t really have any hard and fast rules; it is about being comfortable and in present. Thus, it can be practiced in several ways, such as:

  • Feel hot water touching your skin while having a shower.
  • Enjoy your first tea or coffee in the morning as if you are drinking it for the first time.
  • Chewing slowly and enjoying every bite of what you eat.
  • You can also ask someone to blindfold you, and take you somewhere. See something for the first time, and see how it feels.
  • Or, you can ask someone to make you eat something when you are blindfolded. Does food taste different? Do you enjoy it more?
  • Observe how your feet feel when it touches the ground while walking. Or walk slowly barefoot on the grass, which is being mindful while walking.

Mindfulness is not a practice you need to learn – it is part of us. But with our hectic schedules and different daily concerns, we forget being in the present. Thus, this is a technique that brings us back to where we should be – in the present. Fortunately, if you take some time out especially for this, or observe it during your everyday actions, it’ll eventually become part of your life, and make you live stress-free without even you noticing it.

Mamta Banga
Mamta Banga
A writer by choice and a reader by heart, I'm a storyteller by nature. I've got a knack for reading fiction, but I enjoy the adrenaline of writing about facts and real-life experiences. I've recently graduated from the University of Amsterdam and now trying to make a mark in the creative industry. I've extensive experience in working with various media organizations previously, including Microsoft and Reuters, for more than a decade. I am a traveler at heart who doesn’t like to touch and tick the bucket list, rather breathe and explore different cities and cultures.

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