Vogel

Editor’s note: In partnership with the Center for Community Counseling, The Chronicle publishes columns addressing mental-health issues in our community. Reach out for help at 541-344-0620 and ccceugene.org.

Mindfulness, mindfulness, mindfulness. Everyone is talking about it! What does it mean and how can you be mindful? Well, you have come to the right place. Mindfulness can be as easy as taking a deep breath, relaxing your muscles, or focusing on enjoying a meal. 

Mindfulness has been a practice for over 2,500 years and originates from Hindu and Buddhist practices and more recently Christianity and Islam. However, in the 1970s Jon Kobat-Zinn Americanized mindfulness and created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). Jon Kobat-Zinn and other researchers and doctors around the world found that mindfulness has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, stress, and improve sleep, energy levels, concentration and even spike creativity. 

All of this just by taking some deep breaths? Surprisingly, yes! Let me explain how. Mindfulness gives us the ability to be fully present and aware of what is going on around us. By taking moments like this every day it allows us to purposefully focus on the present moment and prevents the brain from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness teaches us to slow down, to breathe and to be present in time. It is said that the average human thinks 60,000 thoughts a day. Taking time out of the day to relax and meditate can slow down the stress, and worried thoughts that run rampant through our brains like children on a sugar high at Disneyland. 

Mindfulness allows us to be aware of our thoughts, which can in turn allow us to control them, and prevent negative or harmful feelings and thought processes. Now that we see how mindfulness can help, you are probably thinking “How can I get started?” 

The best way to get into mindfulness is starting small and practicing a little each day. Next, start exploring! YouTube, books, apps, podcasts and classes can be found almost everywhere. Some of the best ways to practice mindfulness and get started is to research all different types, try them and see if you like them! Below are just a few of the different kinds of mindfulness you could try:

• Breathing exercises 

• Walking meditation

• Exercise mindfulness 

• Eating mindfulness 

• Body scan 

• Yoga 

• Mindful stretching 

• Visual Meditation 

• Mindfulness for rest and relaxation

• Love and kindness mindfulness

After exploring and finding some that you like, try a form of mindfulness each day. Allow yourself to be present, and if necessary, set an alarm, set aside time, or get a mindfulness buddy. The last thing I have to say when starting your journey to mindfulness is that mindfulness is just like any exercise, hobby, or skill: It takes practice. Stick to it! Be compassionate and patient with yourself and practice, practice, practice! Over time I know that you will see, feel, and thrive on the impact mindfulness will have on your life. 

Good luck and happy mindful thinking!

Jessica Vogel is an intern with the Centers for Community Counseling, which serves the southern Willamette Valley.