Mindfulness 101

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Mind full, or mindful? In today’s busy, fast-paced world, making that distinction is not always easy. It is estimated that a person’s mind is filled with approximately 50,000 thoughts per day. No wonder being mindful is so challenging! More people are therefore looking towards mindfulness as a way to deal with all the information that we process on a daily basis. The term “mindfulness” has even made its way into mainstream media. But what is it? How can it help us?

Mindfulness is about being fully present. It involves consciously maintaining an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment in each moment. Or, quite simply, it’s noticing what’s happening right here, right now, in a curious and non-judgmental way. Although mindfulness has been around for centuries, it is now supported by more than 30 years of research in neuroscience. Better focus and concentration, decreased stress/anxiety and general well-being are just a few of its many benefits.

Mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere. A simple way to practice mindfulness is to sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Continue to breathe normally and just notice your breath: its depth, the sound it makes, the coolness of the air entering your nose and the warmth as it leaves again. Feel your chest and belly rising and falling. Whenever your mind starts to wander, simply notice the thoughts, allow them to be there and gently return to your breath. It is your anchor.

Mindfulness is not just a practice – it is a way of being. There are many different ways that you can practice it, such as mindful listening, mindful eating and mindful walking. Try it now and experience it for yourself… there’s no time like the present!

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Marie-Christine Boily is a mindfulness coach and community and spiritual care animator at the Lester B. Pearson School Board. A teacher by training with years of experience, she helps elementary school children to learn mindfulness and social-emotional skills. She also enjoys writing children’s stories and has just completed her first picture book. Visit Marie-Christine’s Facebook page, Mindfulness Coaching & Beyond, for more information or to contact her.

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