There is some confusion about what mindfulness is.

One definition of mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally. – Jon Kabat-Zinn

This means you are choosing to focus your mind on what is happening right now without judging it. It allows us to be in the present moment, helping us be connected to ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

Being mindful helps you to be aware of your feelings and thoughts and not be controlled by them. It also allows you to better focus your attention on one thing at a time. It also helps you from being overly focused on the past or the future. Over focusing on the past or future is one big source of anxiety that may a negative impact on our mood. When you notice yourself getting into negative thought patterns it is important to bring yourself back to the present moment.

Because there are so many things pulling at our attention, it is often hard to practice mindfulness. There are a few ways to practice mindfulness:

  • Focus on your breath
  • Focus on your heartbeat
  • Pay attention to your body
  • Pay attention to your environment
  • Practice letting go of negative thoughts or judgments
  • Don’t try to solve problems

There are so many benefits of practicing mindfulness. A few include:

  • It helps you to notice your thoughts and feelings and body reactions as they come up.
  • It helps you to recognize and accept the things we can not change.
  • It helps you to focus your attention and stay mentally healthy.

Remember, mindfulness, like other things we do, is a practice and will require work. Here are a few ideas for practicing mindfulness:

  • Guided meditation – A few good ones include Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer
  • Create reminders around your house to remind you to be present
  • Pick a daily activity to do mindfully every day.

For more great ideas, visit our Teen Toolkit.

The Child Mind Institute and Erika’s Lighthouse have teamed up to create this Virtual Awareness tip.