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12
Jul

What Is Mindfulness and How To Be Mindful

Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present moment; being mind full. Noticing what you are doing, thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, touching. Though it can be difficult to stay in the present moment, practicing mindfulness can help you do just that. Focusing on the present and becoming aware of your surroundings by experiencing them is a way to practice mindfulness.  Mindfulness is a matter of using your senses to help you ground yourself right now. The purpose is not to feel emotionally but rather to feel experientially. 

When you learn to practice experiencing mindfully, you will have better awareness of what you are feeling, when you are feeling a certain way, why you are feeling that way and what you can do next. When we take a moment to sit in the present, we begin to feel what we might not want to feel. We also learn that feelings and experiences don’t last. Mindfulness exercises help you learn to ride the wave of emotion as it comes and goes. They help to center and ground your body and mind. They allow you to learn to trust in your ability handle what comes.

What are the benefits of being mindful?

Research has shown that when practiced regularly,  being mindful helps:
– reduce stress

– increase and improve awareness, focus, attention, time management, and concentration
– improve performance in sports, work, and school
– improves relationships
– decrease impulsivity
– increase pleasure 
– increase ability to make deliberate choices
– increase creativity
– chronic pain management
– making healthier life choices
– increase the ability to feel and move through (past) emotions
– increase gratitude
– reduce anxiety and depression
– management of ADHD symptoms
– reduces feelings of overwhelm
– aid in recovery from alcohol and drugs and mental illness

With all the benefits of mindfulness, it’s no wonder, health professionals of all backgrounds are encouraging more practicing of mindfulness activities. Bottom line, when you have awareness of what you are doing and why, you are able to make effective, intentional changes in your life that will benefit not only yourself, but your relationships as well. You will learn to understand yourself and others more. Being mindful and increasing mindfulness throughout your day takes understanding how to be mindful and practice.

How do I become mindful?

Mindfulness exercises can be practiced in everyday life. To become mindful, you need to bring your attention and awareness to the present moment. The quickest way to do this is pause and breathe. Take a deep breath in counting to five, and breath out counting to 7. This will bring calmness to your body and allow for you to become more aware of your experience. Once you notice you are more calm – or grounded – then tune into your five-senses and what you notice with each, like this: 

What do I feel?
I feel sand beneath my toes because I’m on a beach. 

What do I see?
I see orange-hued clouds in the blue sky during a gorgeous sunset.

What do I smell?
I smell the salt in the ocean and freshness in the air.

What do I hear?
I hear the waves crashing as they come ashore. 

What do I taste?
I taste the mint from my toothpaste. 

You can steady yourself in a chair, placing (and noticing) your feet solidly on the ground as you do this activity. If you find yourself getting distracted, you may want to wiggle your fingers and toes to redirect your attention back to the present and notice, again, what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel. This helps to keep you focused on what is happening now, instead of replaying feelings from the past or problem-solving future danger.

What is the best way to stay mindful?

There is no right or wrong way to stay mindful. Whenever you are coming back to yourself through the present moment, you have succeeded. Messy activities are helpful in getting mindful because they are incredibly experiential. You can use your senses to enjoy them. A few of our favorite activities in Denver to practice mindfulness include:

Vibrational Sound Therapy – This unique experience allows you to treat yourself through the gift of sound. If your mindwanders, it’s okay. You can be brought back to the present moment through gentle sound guidance. Tri Resonance is a local favorite.  

Practice Mindful Cooking & Eating with a Cooking Class – There is no better way to get mindful than by cooking with all of your senses: your hands, your eyes, your sense of smell and taste. Once you have mindfully prepared your meal engaging your senses, you can practice mindful eating as well. Not only will you experience cooking and eating with all of your senses, but also the activity can bring joy. You have the opportunity to laugh and play in the kitchen with a group of like-minded people. Uncorked Kitchen allows you to work side-by-side with chefs and amateurs to create comfort in the kitchen and have fun. 

Visit a Museum – Select a visually appealing exhibition at a museum to stay mindful through sight. When you welcome art and creativity, it helps to bring joy through a new experience. The Denver Art Museum brings world-renowned artists to our city frequently and have an amazing interactive studio for kids and adults to engage in creative artistic activities – using all your senses! 

Take a Mindful Walk – As you know, Colorado offers some of the most beautiful walks in the country. Right here in Denver, we have parks, trails and beautiful historic neighborhoods to wander around. As you take a walk, notice what you see, what you hear, what you smell, whether there is a breeze or the sun is warm on your skin. 

Take a Mindful Breath – Breathe in, counting to five and notice the air coming in through your nose. As you breathe out, count to six or seven and notice the calming effect of slowing your heart rate down through your breathe. Breathing out slows your heart rate and calms your nervous system. Learning to use your breath to calm your body is the most effective way to bring about change in your experiences. 

What if my mind keeps wandering?

Mindfulness is a gentle approach to helping yourself stay grounded. Your mind will drift and may even think negative thoughts. Your job isn’t to control your thoughts but instead become aware of them. Notice they are negative and replace them with kindness toward yourself. You will not be perfect at mindfulness because you are human. However, with practice, you will make progress. 

Mindfulness keeps you grounded in the present moment by helping you notice your surroundings and feelings experientially. It is a way to cope with overwhelm, anxiety, and depression in a healthy way. You have tools inside of you already that can help improve your circumstances. Your five senses are readily accessible and can help you keep calm in situations that feel unsafe in everyday life. You may be powerless sometimes, but you are not helpless.

If you would like to learn more about incorporating mindfulness into managing your anxiety, depression, ADHD, or recovery, we offer mindfulness training through supportive therapy to help you get started.

Reach Out For Help Today

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Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC


Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide therapeutic support for teens, adults, parents, and families. We provide supportive therapy for people struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, ADHD, negative body image, and more
Denver Metro Counseling

Our Clinician’s Bios:
Audrey Bristol, LSW
Molly Ward, LCSW
Karan Steuart, LCSW, LAC
Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACC, ACS

Follow Denver Metro Counseling on Facebook: Denver Metro Counseling and Instagram: @denvermetrocounseling for other helpful information.