The mindfulness movement is slowly creeping into our everyday lives, from meditation spaces at the airport to calming breathing techniques taught in kids’ classrooms—and we couldn’t be happier about it. We know that being mindful can help us reduce stress, encourage happy hormones, sleep better and be more productive.
We caught up with Australia-based life coach and personal development expert Andra Gill of Andra Maria Wellness to learn more about why we should all add mindfulness to our tool belt and easy ways to do it now:
Don’t overthink it
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a devoted yogi to find some inner peace. And you don’t have to download all of the meditation apps and focus 100 percent to get the benefits of being mindful. Why? Because “being mindful simply means being fully conscious and present in the moment without judgment,” Gill says.
Take control of your thoughts
Your mama likely told you that you are what you eat, but you’re also what you think. We all have things we repeat in our heads—both good and bad—and those mantras or patters shape our perspective on the world. “The average human being has 60,000 thoughts per day, and most of them are routinely repeating themselves,” Gill says. “Mindfulness is an important skill to learn because it allows you to take responsibility for your energy, thoughts, actions and, therefore, your life.”
Tame your freak out moments
It’s human to have things that irritate you—from the way your roommate can’t clean her hair out of the drain to the sound of your boyfriend cracking his knuckles. And, while most of the time, you can keep yourself cool as a cucumber, we all have those instances where we release our temper. Being mindful can help this from happening frequently. “In a state of mindfulness, you have the ability to stay centered and choose to see your thoughts as ‘just a story,’ so you can break out of automatic cycles of reactivity, allowing you to become more conscious of your actions and reactions,” Gill explains.
Lower your anxiety levels
Anxiety and stress often stem from fear: When will you meet the right person? When will you finally find a job that you look forward to going to every day? You might stress yourself out over timing and let your fears get the best of you. But by being in the moment, mindfulness encourages acceptance of the present moment and less worry about the unknown. (And psst: it’s in the unknown that anything—and we mean anything!—is possible.)
Learn to take challenges in stride
“Being mindful puts you in a position of choice. With practice, becoming aware of your habitual thoughts and patterns of reactivity allows you to determine how to respond to situations around you, which is especially useful in relationships,” Gill tells us. Whether it’s with your partner, friends or coworkers, mindfulness can help you see difficult situations coming so you can handle them with grace, instead of frustration.
Boost your mood and make you happier
When you aren’t stuck replaying past issues or daydreaming about struggles to come, you’ll find pockets of contentment as you appreciate exactly where you are now.
Practice literally anywhere
The best part about mindfulness is that it requires no money, no equipment and no special instructions. Taking a timeout for a few breaths in the morning, mid-workday or before bed can get your mindful juices flowing.
Ready to get started? Try this.
Gill recommends a short, mindful meditation to her clients looking to add more calm to their lives. “Dedicating five to 10 minutes in the morning to this practice will set the foundation for a great day ahead. My all-time favorite mindfulness meditation that I recommend to my clients involves lighting a candle and observing the flame for 10 minutes each morning. I find it’s easier to start practicing with your eyes open (opposed to closed), continuously bringing back your attention to the candle flame every time the mind drifts off. This technique will not only put you in a state of mindfulness but will greatly help increase concentration levels throughout the day.”