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Mindfulness is really having a moment right now. Everyone from pop stars to tech CEOs to Joyous Health bloggers are talking about how good for you the practice is, and mindfulness has gone from thing your weird hippie friend keeps talking about to billion-dollar industry.
And it’s a good thing, too! There are lots of studies that confirm the health benefits of meditation for a wide range of concerns and conditions.
But here’s the thing: everyone seems happy to talk about how good meditation is for you, but you never hear anyone talking about how easy it is, or how fun it is. Okay, except for maybe your weird hippie friend. We all have one of those in our lives. And that’s because meditation isn’t really supposed to be fun or easy.
That’s kind of the whole point: challenging yourself to do nothing but sit and focus of a period of time.
But this challenge is exactly what scares a lot of people away from the idea of a mindfulness practice. Sitting still and focusing on a single thing is the exact opposite of the multitasking, constantly on-the-go ethos we tend to prize today, so many people don’t even know where to start.
But there are plenty of ways to dip your toe in the mindfulness waters. Here are a few of my favourites!
How To Develop A Mindfulness Practice
Having some sort of guide can be incredibly helpful if you’re looking to start a meditation practice. Before you go and invest lots of time and money in retreats and classes, try turning your smartphone from distraction to mindfulness tool by downloading a meditation app. I really love Headspace because it teaches you different techniques, and has so much content you could have a different guided session every day for well over a year, so it’s like having your own personal meditation teacher on demand! Buddhify and Insight Timer are also solid bets.
Racing thoughts getting in the way of a mindfulness practice? Try getting all of those thoughts out of your head and onto the page! Journalling has been used in the mental health community for ages because of its therapeutic benefits, and it’s a great component of any mindfulness practice. I’m not going to say too much more about it here, because we’ve got an article all about journalling from expert Katie Dalebout.
Ever hear about athletes (whether amateurs, professionals, or weekend warriors) talk about getting into “the zone?” That’s a meditative state they’re talking about! But don’t wait to stumble upon this state by accident. You can bring mindfulness to your workout by using your breath as an anchor to keep you focused, and being aware of what’s going on in your body.
Mindfulness and exercise work synergistically together. Mindfulness helps keep you focused, which can lead to better athletic performance and lower risk of injury, while exercise is a fantastic way to lower stress levels, which can make mindfulness practices feel more natural and less forced.
And no, it doesn’t have to just be yoga. You can bring mindfulness to any physical activity, from running, to weightlifting to martial arts. Focus on bringing mindfulness to a form of fitness you already love, rather than searching for a type of of activity that you think fits the image of “mindfulness.”
What does your mindfulness practice look like? What techniques would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below!