What is Mindfulness – And Can It Improve Your Well-being?
When you think of mindfulness, you may picture someone meditating peacefully under a tree, being perfectly “at one” with their surroundings.
You may also think of it as something you’ve thought about starting, but never quite got around to practising.
Although mindfulness has been a trendy topic in the mental health space for a while, many of us don't seriously consider it as a way to support our mental health.
But mindfulness may have more benefits than you think.
Here at KMA, our dedicated team of therapists is here to help you navigate challenges using whatever strategies work best for you. We are passionate about teaching you all the different ways that you can support your well-being, whether you’re in therapy or not.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what mindfulness is, a few mindfulness exercises to try, and an idea of whether integrating more mindfulness into your life could benefit you.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming fully aware of your mind, body, and emotions without judgment.
It involves feeling your emotions without labelling them as positive or negative and being able to observe the events in your life without letting them dictate how you feel.
A state of mindfulness allows you to interact with your surroundings without being controlled by them.
Mindfulness can have benefits for:
- Pain relief
- Reducing anxiety
- Lowering burnout
- Improving sleep and attention
- Lessening feelings of depression
Ultimately, the goal of mindfulness in therapy is to help you identify negative thought patterns so that you can replace them with positive thought patterns (that are more connected to reality).
What Does Mindfulness Look Like in Therapy?
There are several ways that mindfulness can be integrated into the therapy process, regardless of whether you’re attending individual or group therapy.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can include:
- Meditation exercises
- Body-scanning and self-awareness
- Observing and connecting to your breath
These exercises will help you to become aware of how you’re feeling in the moment and identify ways to connect with yourself and your environment in the present.
What are the Benefits of Mindfulness for Well-being?
While most people can benefit from being more mindful, you may wonder what the specific benefits are.
Research has shown benefits such as:
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced focus
- Higher cognitive flexibility
- Increased positive emotions
- Supported working memory
Mindfulness may improve self-awareness and self-discovery while enhancing overall well-being.
What Are Mindfulness Exercises?
Mindfulness exercises are designed to help you become more aware of the present moment. One example of this is Mindful Seeing.
During a Mindful Seeing exercise, you’re invited to look out a window and thoughtfully observe what you see outside.
Rather than naming the things you see in your head (for example, “I see a flower”), you’re encouraged to describe them (“It looks pink, small, and has round leaves”).
This exercise helps you observe the outside world without immediately judging whether what you’re seeing is good or bad.
This kind of exercise can be helpful for people who do better with visual cues, and who may struggle with mindfulness exercises like listening to guided meditations.
Next Steps for Mindfulness-Based Therapy in Toronto
After reading this article, you now understand what mindfulness involves, the benefits of mindfulness for your well-being, and an example of a mindfulness exercise.
Here at KMA, we’re here to support you in your goals for achieving a higher level of well-being. Whether you think mindfulness could support you in reaching your goals or you’re interested in alternate forms of therapy, our team is here to help.
If you’re not yet ready to speak with a therapist, read these resources for more information:
- To explore your inner child, read: 5 Healing Ways to Re-Parent Your Inner Child
- To learn about the benefits of exercise, read: How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?
- To learn more about “fight or flight”, read: What Are the Four Trauma Responses - And How to Cope