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How Mindfulness Can Enhance Your Happiness

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Mindfulness is an ancient practice that may have its roots in religious studies, but today is used every day in order to find greater focus and inner peace. From the board room to the classroom, millions have embraced mindfulness to enhance their happiness and so can you. Here’s why it is so effective.

#1. Mindfulness stops negative thought cycles.

Have you ever noticed that the first things you remember from almost every life experience tend to be the negative components? It might have been the perfect wedding, but a microphone cord was unplugged. It might have been an A+, but it was 99/100 and that one problem stopped a perfect score. Mindfulness helps to re-train the mind to focus first on the positive instead of the negative.

We already practice mindfulness without realizing it. If you power through those negative emotions, what happens? You remember the joy of a first kiss after the wedding ceremony. You remember the fun you had studying for a test with friends and all the laughter you had. We judge ourselves far too harshly. Mindfulness stops the negative thought cycles by stopping the judging.

#2. You connect on a deeper level.

It’s true that some people are comfortable living by themselves and they avoid social interactions. Yet every person benefits from social interaction. Loneliness is actually a risk factor for numerous diseases because of the stresses that get placed on the human body. With mindfulness, we can connect with others on a deeper level so that the social awkwardness or discomfort has the chance to go away.

#3. Your contentment matters more than you think.

How long did you spend on your morning jog today? How much have you spent for those ultra-high powered workout videos? We often believe that changing one thing we don’t like about life will make us happier, but it’s not always true. Happiness only comes when we’re able to tap into our inner contentment. We must learn to let go of the things we cannot control and place a sense of personal well-being as a higher priority than surface issues.

This can be difficult to do in an age where consumerism equates to happiness. Buying more stuff won’t create prolonged happiness. Being content is the only way.

#4. It’s the attitude of gratitude.

An amazing thing begins to occur as the first three components of mindfulness begin to take shape and form within your inner being. A sense of peace begins to settle on your heart. A weight gets lifted off of your shoulders. A feeling of gratitude begins to take over.

It’s a genuine gratitude that is reflective of the fact that today is a new day. There are new experiences to enjoy. New joys to find. New moments of perfection to explore.

Mindfulness helps us all to slow down and enjoy the moment. Just trying it for a few days could change your world. Happiness can be found right now and it starts with a choice to embrace mindfulness.

You Can Still Practice Mindfulness Even If You Are Busy

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Mindfulness is a term that is being used very frequently these days. It is a skill that allows a person to be more aware of their present circumstances. Instead of allowing a day to sail on by, a person practicing mindfulness will look at the perfection of each moment as it comes, no matter what their circumstances might be.

Why practice mindfulness even when busyness is the rule of the day? What mindfulness does is create a more rational mind. By being able to set emotions aside, a person practicing mindfulness is able to be more rational with every choice that needs to be made. Instead of having choices that are dominated by joy or fear or our flight-or-fight reflexes, a decision can be made using logic and reason.

How Can You Begin To Practice Mindfulness?

Here is one simple fact that we often choose to ignore: being busy is a choice. In many ways, the level of busyness that we have during the day is a badge of honor that we wear proudly. Because we are so busy, we take joy in the fact that we are unable to do the things that we actually love. It is a lot like an addiction. Just like you can be a workaholic, you can be a busy-a-holic. Mindfulness seeks to change that.

All you need to do to get started is to set aside 60 seconds. Take that one-minute and meditate during it. It can be as simple as sitting at your desk, closing your eyes, and taking three or four deep breaths. In those few seconds, your mind will begin to practice mindfulness. A natural side effect of these micro meditation periods is that you will feel less stress, feel less overwhelmed, and feel like you have more time to accomplish the things that need to get done during the day.

Sometimes Mindfulness Requires Action To Succeed

It is common for a mind to allow thoughts to wander. Sometimes we call this daydreaming. When you’re in the middle of an important business meeting, having your thoughts stray can be a bad thing. You might suddenly miss what was just said. You might “space out” for several minutes. This is wasted time that could be used for mindfulness.

Finding the perfection in any given moment means actively seeking out what is perfect. Sometimes perfection can be found in the words that we are hearing from someone else. Sometimes you can go beyond the words that are being said and find perfection in the ideas that are behind the words. Instead of spacing out for daydreaming, try focusing your concentration in the next business meeting you have on every individual word. By not allowing your mind to wander, you are being more mindful. You are training your brain to be in the present moment, right here and right now.

If you have 60 seconds, then you have time to start reprogramming your mind to accept mindfulness. Don’t accept the excuse of being busy anymore. When mindfulness is in your corner, you have an amazing opportunity every day to achieve great things. All you must do is decide to take advantage of those opportunities.

How Could 3 Days of Mindfulness Change Your Life?

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The benefits of mindfulness meditation have long been promoted, but it has been thought that it can take an extensive amount of time for these benefits to kick in. According research from Carnegie Mellon University, however, it may take just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation for three consecutive days to alleviate psychological stress. By paying attention to one’s breathing and the condition of one’s surroundings, it has been found to be moderately effective to battle pain, anxiety, and even depression.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect Meditation

One of the most common obstacles that people face in meditating is that they feel like they need to be perfect in order to get the benefits. That simply isn’t true! You don’t have to be able to clear your mind of every thought or preconceived notion that comes your way. The mind is designed to think, file thoughts away, and strategize. It’s actually more unnatural to try to force a mind to be completely empty than it is to let it naturally process the surrounding environment.

The goal with mindfulness meditation simply needs to be finding a better focus. Hearing sounds and then processing them doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong. It simply means that you’re meditating in your own way. There are some things you can do, however, to facilitate an improved meditation experience:

  • Find comfort. If your mind can focus on your environment and breathing rather than the fact that your leg is going numb, then you can have a better experience. Make a specific spot your meditation spot, find a comfortable position, and then settle in for the next 25 minutes.
  • Observe. The more you are aware of your surrounding environment, then the better your meditation session is going to be. It’s the sensations of mindfulness that make it such a powerful phenomenon.

Why Is Focused Breathing So Important?

Deep breaths will automatically relax the human body. Patterns of breathing can relieve pain. That’s why pregnant mothers are taught specific breathing patterns during childbirth preparation classes. By allowing yourself to create a focused pattern of breathing that lets you control your body movements, you can free yourself of all the things that can hold you back over the course of a day. Regrets, worries, sadness, and even anger can dissipate in as little as 5 minutes of controlled breathing.

Most importantly, however, mindfulness meditation means being still. One cannot experience their environment until they allow the environment to interact with them. Being busy all the time means that we are forcing ourselves to ignore the moments of perfection that surrounds us every day. By spending just 25 minutes for 3 days in a row exploring these moments, all of your stress can be gone.

Purposefulness Through Mindfulness: 6 Ways To Achieve Better Meditation

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As research as shown that 3 days of purposeful mindfulness meditation can eliminate most, if not all of the stress that someone is feeling, it is important to know how to achieve this. Being purposeful means more than just scheduling an appointment to meditate in your calendar every day. It’s a concentric effort that brings all of your senses to bear.

It all begins with a better approach to paying attention to things all day. Perfection can be found in many things if we’re willing to look for it. Even the flavor of our toothpaste has a certain perfection to it, but only if we’re willing to notice it through mindfulness.

1. Take a Break. You must be willing to allow yourself to take a break from your own world every now and then. We all create barriers to the real world in our haste to get through any given day. Mindfulness allows us to take these barriers down so that we can take a break from our fantasy worlds that we construct to cope with life’s stresses.

2. Weave It In. Mindfulness can be a lifestyle approach if you’re willing to adopt it. Every touch, every taste, and even every emotion has a deeper quality to it if we’re willing to take notice of it.

3. Categorize It. The mind is used to having to calculate billions of things at once. Think about it. Your brain is causing your heart to beat, your lungs to breath, and your eyes help it to understand these very words. It’s used to creating categories to file experiences and thoughts into, so allow it to do so. What does your shirt feel like right now? How comfortable is your chair? Do your shoes need to come off?

4. Accept the Emotion. When the mind tries to relax, it tends to think of something that creates an internal trigger. These triggers then force a response that creates sadness, anger, or regret. We so often keep busy simply because we want to avoid these difficult emotions. By focusing on mindfulness, we can stop running, forgive ourselves, and then begin to move on.

5. Be Neutral. Mindfulness meditation stops the instant we begin judging ourselves on the quality of our thoughts. We must be able to take a neutral approach to the various states of mind that we have. If we do not, then we’ll create new barriers to mindfulness that will never allow us to eliminate stress. Why? Stress is created with the formation of every barrier.

6. Let It Go. What mindfulness meditation does better than anything else is forgiveness. It gives the mind a medium that allows it to let go of things that it may have held onto for years. We are not defined by our past, but we so often live in our memories and allow them to drive us. It’s now that matters. It’s whom we will be in the future that matters. That’s what mindfulness allows us to focus upon.

Could Slow Reading Be a Form of Meditation?

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Have you ever noticed how a good book can relax you? You settle in for a few minutes of reading and before you know it, the entire night has almost passed you by! What is unique about a slow read is that your mind is solely focused on the words being read and how that relates to the pictures that are created in your mind. You know what else creates that same effect? Meditation.

Is Reading a Good Book the Same As Meditating?

If you’re trying to read for speed, then your mind is not solely focused on the book or ebook that is in front of you. You’re trying to get through the book for some specific purpose and that purpose is at the forefront of your mind, driving the experience. Speed equates to stress and that means meditating benefits are ignored for the benefit of obtaining speed.

For a slow read, however, your mind is focused on every word that is observed and then given comprehension. It’s like meditating with your eyes closed and choosing to focus on a single idea, thought, or experience. Your mind gets tunnel vision, closing out the racing thoughts and other problems that may be surrounding you at any given moment because the next word is powerful and profound.

Slow reading does more than just break the chains that the outside world tries to put onto you. It helps develop the skill of concentration and this deepens a person’s ability to actively listen in any given situation.

How Can You Take Advantage of Slow Reading?

The first and most critical component of using slow reading as a form of meditation is to eliminate all of the distractions that might be around you. Turn off your phone completely because you’ll hear the vibrations, even if you’re upstairs and the phone is downstairs. You’ll want to turn off your computer as well because even with notifications turned off or the volume muted, you will be tempted to check your Facebook page in the middle of a good read.

A slow read also helps with reading comprehension skills. The mind must be fully focused not just on each word, but each part of each word in order to fully understand the nuance and meaning the author is attempting to put into the text. Books also have more formal language than what you’ll find on social media sites like Twitter, which means a complete understanding of language can be developed by the mind. Instead of reading abbreviations to understand them, you’ll start converting the abbreviations to their full meaning in your head before understanding them.

It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. It means a complete understanding is desired by the mind! That desire will fuel you in a number of personal and professional ways, from feeling less stress to being able to read and understand more effectively.

If you’re struggling with a routine that includes meditation, then try slow reading as an alternative. The benefits are similar to what meditation can provide and you’ll be able to discipline your mind to a new way of thinking. In return, you might just find that life itself can be much more exciting!

How You Can Overcome Common Obstacles to Mindfulness

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The benefits of mindfulness are clear, but it is also one of the most difficult paths to follow. There are a number of roadblocks that get in the way, causing distractions from the peace and joy that can come with an increased awareness. Once negative circumstances happen, it’s easy to begin following a new journey! By paying attention to these common obstacles to mindfulness, you’ll be able to enjoy more than just the good life. It’ll be a great life!

#1. There Isn’t Enough Effort

Mindfulness can be very difficult. It takes ongoing effort every day in order for this specific skill to develop. It can be very discouraging to practice mindfulness at first because it feels like there is no progress being made. When you make the conscious effort to stay in control, even when you feel like you’re out of control, then eventually it will get easier.

#2. There Are Too Many Distractions

There are always going to be distractions during your journey toward mindfulness. Plan ahead of time what you’ll do if the negative thoughts begin creeping in. You can also proactively work to eliminate common distractions like email notifications so that your time won’t be disturbed.

#3. Expectations Are Unrealistic

Even though we live in a society that expects instant results, most of the time people need to pay their dues in order to taste success. That’s very true with mindfulness! Some days will seem incredibly slow and there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead of being upset about a lack of progress, try being content with the progress you do experience.

#4. Giving Up

When there is a roadblock in the way, it’s very easy to throw your hands up in the air in frustration and just walk away from the journey. A roadblock is a challenge, nothing more. You can rise to meet this challenge, just as you meet other challenges every single day.

#5. There Are Conflicting Goals

Mindfulness is a wonderful goal to have, but it can also create conflict with some of your other goals. This creates a conflict that ultimately manifests itself in stress. Goals are intended to make people happy, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of mindfulness or your peace of mind. If you’re experiencing a conflict, then it’s time to reexamine the goals you’ve got.

#6. The Eyes Are Looking Behind

The reward of mindfulness isn’t the final destination. It isn’t what has happened in the past either. The reward of mindfulness is the journey that you undertake every day. Meeting goals might bring temporary satisfaction, but that is all. With mindfulness, there is a curve of growth that allows people to be a little better every single day.

#7. You’re Just Done

Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You’d rather do anything than practice mindfulness at that moment… and there’s nothing wrong with that. Being mindful means being aware of what you and your body needs as well. Just make sure to come back when you are in a good space and you’ll be able to conquer any obstacle.

There are common obstacles that can get in the way of mindfulness, but these challenges can be defeated. They will make you stronger. When that happens, you’ll find that the benefits of mindfulness won’t be very far behind!

5 Mindfulness Exercises That Will Change Your Life

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It’s very easy to just sail through a day on cruise control. In some ways, it makes the day a lot easier to handle because stress and anxiety can be ignored. On the other hand, however, many of the details that make each day special get missed when a mind is stuck on autopilot! These 5 mindfulness exercises will help you connect to your world without the threat of being overwhelmed by fearful emotions.

#1. Meditation

The benefits of meditation are proven, but mindfulness meditation takes these benefits to a new level. Each breath that you focus upon will keep you in the present instead of focusing on the regrets of the past or the worries of the future. With daily practice, you can make each moment become a perfect moment because you can experience all of the details in that moment with an excited, eager mind.

#2. Improve Your Posture

For many, the reason why they have aches and pains that occur throughout the day is because their posture isn’t suitable for their body. The human body is very adaptable and can adjust to changing circumstances, but it also wasn’t meant to sit slouched in an office chair for 8 hours per day while typing at an uncomfortable position. Be aware of what your body is saying, listen by adjusting your posture as needed, and don’t be afraid to take a break when needed.

#3. Waiting In Line Isn’t a Waste of Time

When was the last time you spent several minutes waiting in line for something that you needed to purchase? Even when you’re in a queue, you have the opportunity to bring your attention back to the present and experience a perfect moment. You can focus on how your body is feeling at this very moment. You can take joy in the excited laugh of a child or a favorite smell and then keep that positive emotion flowing as you wait. Deep breaths will further enhance this process and keep you mindful of the good instead of the bad.

#4. Keep the Music Off

Although music can help to facilitate meditation, it can be a distraction to mindfulness. Think about your favorite song right now for a couple minutes. Think about the lyrics and the melody… and now you’ll think about that song periodically for the next several hours. Music engages the entire mind, but it doesn’t always help to bring someone to focus on the present. Instead of hearing the tones of a good composition, listen to the composition of the perfect moments of the world going around you at this very second. That’s what mindfulness can do.

#5. Eliminate the Phone

Even if your smartphone isn’t sounding right now, it presents a distraction to mindfulness. Do I have any Facebook notifications? As my boss texted me yet? These are all items that take you away from the moment. Turn your phone to silent if you must carry it with you, but remove the phone from the equation whenever possible to maximize the benefit you receive with it missing. When you’re experiencing the details of a perfect moment, you won’t notice it missing!

These 5 exercises can help you improve the mindfulness you experience every day so you don’t have to stay on cruise control. Begin practicing them today and you’ll quickly see what you’ve been missing!

Are You Ready to Reduce Stress in 5 Minutes?

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There’s just one mental practice that’s been able to stand the tests of clinical research and that is meditation. When there is a focus on mindfulness, there is a proven ability for anyone practicing meditation to improve their mental performance, increase their focus, and stop depression, anxiety, and stress dead in its tracks.

One of the most common questions that is asked by those who’ve never practiced meditation before involves the time commitment. “How much time do I have to dedicate to meditation to have it help me?” The answer might just surprise you: 5 minutes.

What Could You Do In the Next 5 Minutes?

How often have you wasted 5 minutes in your day? It happens all of the time. Whether you’re reading a Facebook post that ends up being a worthless sales pitch or you just sit at your desk and space off, there are at least 4 or 5 periods of this time that people have every day that aren’t used at all. Instead of wasting this time, try putting an emphasis on mindfulness meditation in there.

What’s interesting about the practice of meditation is that it does more than just reduce current stress levels. It also reduces the amount of perceived stress that people feel during the average day. When you change your focus from a negative, anxiety-based perspective that has worry as the #1 object of attention to a meditation-based focus that looks at positive energy as the top priority, a life can change very quickly.

More Meditation Means More Results

5 minutes is a good place to start, but you’ve also got to build upon each success that you have. Let your 5 minute meditation sessions become the foundation of longer sessions. Why? Because research has shown that those who meditate more on a daily basis have lower levels of cortisol in their bodies. Cortisol is that fuel that makes stress and anxiety burn. If you lower the fuel levels, then you lower the amount of stress.

Meditating for a long period of time can be physically and mentally challenging. You must commit to meditation as you would any other chore. The only difference is that instead of washing dishes or doing laundry, you’re providing your mind with strength that it can use to fight off the cortisol-induced issues that can flood your life patterns.

There is even some thought that a habit of mindfulness can be developed with long-term meditation so that it becomes a natural part of life. In other words, over time it is believed that the mind will automatically shift into a mode of meditation whenever there is an opportunity for rest. How do you get to this end result? By starting your journey today with your very first steps!

Take 5 minutes to meditate at some point in this day. You choose the time, but make it happen. You might just find that it will change your life.

Could Mindfulness Make Monday Mornings Exciting Again?

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There’s something about Monday morning that makes it worse than the rest of the week. Part of it is the return to work after a couple of days off with the family, absolutely! There’s also another component that involves stress. You see, people also have from the time they get off on Friday afternoon until they arrive at work Monday morning to begin worrying about the next work week. It’s a hidden minefield that’s disguised in family fun, but there nonetheless.

How could this anticipatory stress be reduced? Through an increased practice of mindfulness.

What Do You Actually Do Every Weekend?

The whole idea of the weekend is to give people a couple days off to relax and rejuvenate. It’s a place where we’re in full control of almost all of our circumstances. There’s no deadlines, no professional workload, and no project demands, but that doesn’t mean you don’t worry about upcoming deadlines, workload responsibilities, and project demands.

Every time you think about work during your time off, you’re increasing your stress levels because you’re anticipating stress when you return to work.

How can mindfulness prevent this from occurring? It works because instead of looking toward the future and the stresses of an upcoming work week, you’re paying more attention to the present moments that you have. Instead of the project due on Tuesday, for example, you’re consciously focusing on the smell of the roses, the crack of a baseball bat, or the flavors of that hamburger you’re having for lunch with the kids.

Mindfulness Is Like a Reset Button

There are only so many seconds available to any given day and there’s a good chance that what you’re doing right now at work may be forgotten by this time next year. Mindfulness slows down the rush toward stress because you’re focusing on the details of right now that matter. With mindfulness a regular habit, you’ll be consciously slowing down your intentions of each action so that you are more aware of the environment around you.

How does that help make Monday morning better? Because it gives your mind time to breathe. Instead of being anxious for Monday, you’ll be seeking out the small, very perfect moments that are surrounding you right now, even as you read this article. The greatest undiscovered frontier isn’t beyond our solar system or beneath our seas: it’s within your soul, the inner core of self that gets ignored because of the frantic rushing that many believe is necessary to find success.

Mindfulness has a different definition of success. It helps you extend your joy because you’re solely focused on the beauty that any given moment can provide. When you work toward this achievement, you’ll notice that Monday morning is no longer a time you hate to experience!

How Could You Add More Mindfulness To Your Life?

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As technology continues to take on more roles in life, people are finding that they must consciously disconnect from the world in order to avoid burnout and high stress levels. The idea of mindfulness was once reserved for the ultra-spiritual, or perhaps the person who walked into the heavily scented store that sold crystals, but those days are gone. Mindfulness is something that has become commonly practiced because it is so easy to add to life!

Here are some fundamental ways you could add mindfulness to your life:

Take a walk. Nothing cures stress like a little exercise. When you take a walk, you gain the chance to calm the mind, obtain a better focus once again, and often tap into your creative centers. Green is often relaxing to people, so try taking a walk through a local green space and just enjoy the time away you’re taking to start the process of mindfulness.

Every moment is an opportunity. Can you really practice mindfulness while putting wet clothes into the dryer? Or sticking dirty plates into the dishwasher? You can… and that’s often the best place to start. Being more aware of the sounds, the smells, and the sights of your environment integrates the routine of mindfulness and helps provide long-term success.

Breathing is fundamental. Your breathing patterns are a measurement of how you’re really feeling. Control your breathing and you’ll control those difficult stresses and emotions that are bothering you. Ever take a deep breath to calm down? Now imagine using mindfulness to take a deep breath that lasts all day long!

Eliminate multitasking. When someone’s attention is divided into just two directions, it will take them twice as long to get one task done and they’re twice as likely to make errors. How many tabs are up on your internet browser right now? And do you check social media and the news and your email while working? That’s multitasking too!

Eating and sleeping right plays a major role. There’s an old kid’s song that says Input Output, what goes in is what comes out. What you eat plays a big part in achieving mindfulness because your body needs the right fuel to get through the day. Put junk into your body and you’ll get junk out! Take time to eat, taste the food, and get the right amount of sleep that you need every night.

They get outside. Did you know that you can actually become deficient in Vitamin D if you don’t get outside enough? Going outside does more than just put sunlight on your skin and make you healthy, however, because it also encourages exploration. Mindfulness is all about exploring the internal and there’s no better way to do so than while exploring the external.

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