Mindfulness is widely known concept in spiritual and psychological practices but it can be often misunderstood.

For example, a person will believe they are practicing mindfulness but may be unaware of how their internalized consciousness perpetuates stereotypes or behaviors that conflict with the practice. To see this example through the eyes of a mindfulness practitioner, check out this post by my friend and colleague Breeze Harper of Sistah Vegan Project.

Mindfulness, at its core, is a practice of conscious, active awareness of your thoughts, words, and actions as it plays out in the world. Your attention is focused on the present moment, observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment.

There are several forms of mindfulness, some of which include awareness of your breathing, your body, giving and receiving, discipline, death, and esoteric thought.

Most begin the practice of mindfulness by learning to become aware of the breath and one’s breathing habits/patterns, because breathing is the first indicator of where we are in our mental, emotional, and physical states. Long, deep breathing signifies a relaxed and calm body and mind, whereas shallow breathing signifies tightness, stress, anxiety, pain, etc.

When you are calm and relaxed, you become more aware of how you are responding/reacting to external stimuli. Mindfulness teaches you that you can not control what happens outside of you, especially other people, but you can control your thoughts, words, and actions.

Mindfulness takes time and conscious effort to develop.

We are often not aware of how we project our thoughts onto our experiences or how our actions and reactions create consequence after consequence.

Mindfulness will help you cultivate understanding for your present situation and help you move into the space you are creating for yourself.

To practice mindfulness on a daily basis, try one or more of these exercises:

  • meditation
  • deep breathing or other controlled breathing exercises
  • keep a journal to record your thoughts or write poetry, paint, draw, or engage in other forms of visual art
  • listen to music (classical, jazz, spiritual, new-age, or any other genre of music that has a calming effect on you)
  • declutter a room
  • complete your house chores
  • stop multi-tasking
  • practice listening

What does mindfulness mean to you? If you’re new to mindfulness, how can you begin to integrate mindfulness in your everyday life?