woman practicing mindfulness on a city street

What is mindfulness—and how does it help?

Simply put, mindfulness is about bringing your attention to the present moment by focusing a single object or experience. Once considered an alternative wellness practice, continued empirical evidence demonstrates its benefits to good health and lowering stress. Across the globe, today many people practice mindfulness. It compliments, rather than replaces, conventional medicine and other good health practices.

Recent studies demonstrate these same benefits apply to those living with Alzheimer’s and associated memory loss. Gaining easy-to-learn skills can help strengthen your personal resilience and expanding your positive experience with the world around you.

Easy ways you can practice mindfulness include:

Focus on your breath

This is a simple exercise than can be done anywhere at any time. Just stop and focus on your breath. Start by breathing in and out slowly. Try to extend the length of each inhale and exhale. Feel the air fill your lungs. Let your thoughts go and become present by paying attention only to your breath.

Just sit and observe

Focus your attention on a single object, often something in nature. Simply choose an object – a flower, insect, or the clouds in the sky – and observe without judgment. Look at it as if you’re seeing it for the first time and pay attention to every detail. Connect with its energy and its purpose in the world.

Adopt an attitude of gratitude

In this exercise, one simply notices the things and/or events that happen each day and being grateful. This could be something as simple as giving thanks that there’s food in your refrigerator, that your bus is on time or that the sun continues to rise each day.

Getting started: practicing mindfulness in a multitasking world

We live in a busy world that rewards achievement and getting results. Given these circumstances, it can be a challenge to practice mindfulness. Here are some tips to get you started.

Adopt a consistent routine

The good thing about mindfulness is that it can be done in a very short amount of time. Focusing on your breath for just a minute can often reduce stress almost immediately. Almost everyone can find a minute in each day.

Observe your present moment without judgment

You may be feeling anxious, sad, guilty or angry. During your mindfulness practice, allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment and observe what effect your mental state is having on your body. You can practice on simple things around you. For example if you’re observing a grasshopper, do so without trying to make sense of its actions or trying to figure out why it’s behaving the way it is.

As judgment arises, acknowledge it, then let it go

It’s easy for our minds to start wandering during either mindfulness exercises or meditation. When this happens, simply realize what’s going on and then return your attention to your breath or whatever it is you’re observing. Be kind to yourself and understand that there’s no perfect way to be mindful. Just allow yourself to be whatever you are in the moment.

Source: IlluminAge