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. – “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
That’s what Harvard University researchers Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert wrote after their 2010 study found that people spend almost half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what is happening. right in front of them.
However, there is good news: we are not condemned to a life of distraction.
By doing mindfulness practice, you can strengthen your ability to focus on the task at hand, experts on the form of meditation told CNN.
Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment “without or reacting to a story about it,” said Amishi Jha, professor of psychology at the University of Miami and author of the upcoming book “Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 minutes a day “.
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Jha said it is very beneficial to adopt an immobile practice, which he compared to resistance training for attention.
The goal is not to control the breath, but to “observe the breath and keep your attention on the breath and when the mind wanders, guide it back to the breath,” he said.
“When we are still, it is much easier to adopt this kind of observation posture,” Jha added. “We don’t have to control our movement. We don’t have to watch where we are in space.”
For many people, that stillness associated with mindfulness or meditation can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to lie still on the floor with your eyes closed to cultivate this mental exercise. There are more mobile ways to be mindful, including the following.
Take a mindful walk
If sitting isn’t your style, mindfulness experts recommend incorporating the practice into a walk.
It’s not the kind of hike where you let your mind wander. Instead, you focus on the sensations of walking, noticing “the toe touching the ground, then the heel, then the lifting of the foot,” Jha said.
If your mind begins to go elsewhere, instead of returning your attention to the breath as you would in a still practice, return your attention to the sensations of walking.
Try conscious stretching
Another common physical practice is stretching, according to Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of “The Little Book of Being.”
“The difference between stretching and turning it into a formal mindfulness practice is what you do with your mind,” he said. “The idea is to stretch and feel the sensations of your body in motion, that is, your arms as they move through space, air, touch, physicality.”
Make daily tasks mindful
You don’t have to do a formal exercise to practice mindfulness.
“It’s this quality of mindfulness and you can bring it to any physical practice,” Winston said. “Instead of being lost in your worries and thinking about everything you have to do and catastrophizing and all the things that we normally do, we turn physical activity into a conscious practice.”
This can be done during such mundane tasks as washing dishes.
“Feel the sensations of your hands in the water, noticing the movement of rubbing. All of this brings awareness to your day,” said Winston.
You can even incorporate the practice into your journey, Jha said.
“You could be sitting on the subway. You could be at a stop sign,” he stated. “In an elevator waiting. You stop, breathe, watch and continue.”
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Regardless of which way you try, you want to be successful when you start a mindfulness practice, Jha said, so he recommended starting with small goals.
People will also find that some practices work better for them than others, said Mallika Chopra, author of “My Body is a Rainbow” and “Just Be You,” children’s books on emotional awareness.
“It changes at different times and ages and in different phases of our own life,” Chopra said. She suggested starting with something nice. “People tend to think that these exercises are very serious and stoic, and the goal is to make it fun.”