How to Practice Mindfulness & Make Peace with Food
How to Practice Mindfulness + Guided Meditation
What is Mindfulness & the Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
What is mindfulness and why does it matter for our health? Research has revealed countless benefits to practicing mindfulness regularly. Not just for our mental and emotional health, but also for our physical health and even weight loss. Today, we’re exploring what is mindfulness exactly, how to practice mindfulness in daily life, and I’m sharing a short guided meditation.
So far, I’ve introduced some of my journey, and shared how cultivating inner wisdom and emotional intelligence made it possible for me to lose weight (without struggle). And, more importantly, make peace with food and my body. At this point, you may be willing to admit that emotions and stress are important to our physical health.
Now, we can acknowledge the need to prioritize these emotional ability skills, but how do we do it? There are many ways to cultivate emotional intelligence. Some we’ve talked about, including journaling, gratitude practice, mindful movement such as yoga, therapy, and more. But, one of the main tools I turned to was meditation—which is simply a tool to develop mindfulness.
We’re diving deeper into all of this in today’s video! First, I’ll break down what is mindfulness and why it matters for our health and even weight loss. Plus, we’ll explore how to practice mindfulness and reap the benefits in your own life—and you DON’T need to meditate to do it!
What is Mindfulness Exactly?
Mindfulness is a practice of being nonjudgmentally aware of the present moment. There’s a Viktor Frankl quote that illustrates the concept perfectly for me:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Mindfulness is really that space he’s talking about. When we can access that space, we can choose to respond to whatever is happening, rather than react—which is what we normally do without awareness.
Meditation is simply a tool to develop mindfulness. For me, meditation was an invaluable tool when I was learning how to practice mindfulness and develop the skill in my life. And since then, my meditation practice has only deepened and expanded!
But, meditation isn’t the only tool for practicing mindfulness in our lives, because we can actually tune in and be mindful at any time. It just requires us remembering to tune in: with a nonjudgmental awareness of whatever is happening right now, in this present moment. So, why is it worth learning how to practice mindfulness & how can it impact your health?
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness for our Health
In researching emotional intelligence and its impact on health, I found that emotional intelligence has actually shown to be a mediator between mindfulness and well-being. In other words, mindfulness is a practice that has the evidenced-based impact on our health. But, emotional intelligence explains why mindfulness works.
Translation: Mindfulness develops our emotional intelligence, and that emotional intelligence helps us to live with less stress, more ease, and greater health and happiness. Mindfulness is a practice that helps us gain emotional intelligence. And, emotional intelligence skills enable us to live healthier lives!
Mindfulness vs Meditation + Why I Meditate
Remember, meditation is just a tool to practice mindfulness. Personally, I first tried out meditation in a yoga class, and initially I believed I wasn’t a “meditation person.” I thought meditation was for people who were either really calm and spiritual already, or people who were really anxious and wanted to be calm.
But, after trying it out a few times, I became captivated. The instructor kept noting “there’s no such thing as a perfect meditation.” At the time, I was so imprisoned by my own perfectionism that I was intrigued by this idea. Then, I started to notice my impulse to be a “good meditator,” which was followed by a fascination with the idea that, maybe there’s no such thing as a good or perfect meditator. (Hint: there’s not!)
With a meditation practice, I really believe I un-did my perfectionism. (I’ll save that story for a different day!) For the entire first year, I only meditated for 5 minutes a day. But, by immersing myself in meditation, I was unknowingly building up my emotional intelligence and shifting my relationship with food and health.
Over time, this immersion into mindfulness became my life, which is why I went back to school to get my graduate degree in mindfulness studies. Now, I really believe meditation is a tool that can heal so many of us—not just emotionally and mentally, but physically, too.
Short Guided Meditation
So, if you’d like to give meditation a try, I’ve created a basic 5-minute guided meditation that you can download and use anytime! You don’t need to sit in lotus position, and you don’t need a special chair or cushion (though you can use one if you like). Simply find a comfortable, quiet place to sit (preferably upright), where you can be free of distractions and tune in for 5 minutes.
First, I suggest starting small with any meditation practice—5 minutes per day can really make a difference over time. And, if you’d rather try out a meditation app, go for it! Below, I’ve linked a few apps that I know include trusted and well-respected mindfulness meditation teachers.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Apps
How to Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life
Mindfulness Meditation Q&A
As mentioned, meditation is a fantastic tool to start learning how to practice mindfulness and cultivate it in your life. Now, meditation is not inherently spiritual or religious at all, and it can be approached completely secularly.
Here, I’ve included a Meditation Q&A PDF that may address any concerns you have about meditation or mindfulness. Or, please feel free to email me directly at [email protected] with any of your questions or concerns.
But again, mindfulness can be practiced beyond meditation—and it should be! The goal isn’t to just sit and meditate all day, but rather for the skills that we build up during meditation to translate “off the cushion,” too.
Ways to Practice Mindfulness Beyond Meditation
This downloadable PDF shares some ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life, that aren’t just meditation. Remember, what is mindfulness again? A nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment.
And, you can bring that awareness, without judgment, to whatever is happening right now—at any time. So, tune in to all of your senses while you’re on a walk, eating a meal, in the shower, or even washing the dishes!
Become aware of what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Then, notice the sensations and any thoughts that come up without judging them—just observe, let thoughts pass through, no need to label them ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Stay tuned in to whatever is happening in the moment. And, whenever your mind wanders away (as all minds are bound to do), just gently bring it back to what’s happening now.
Today’s Journal Prompt:
After doing the guided meditation or one of the suggested mindfulness exercises, reflect on your experience. What did you notice? What thoughts and feelings arose? Did anything surprise you? What challenged you?
Mindfulness & Meditation Resources
- Meditation Q&A + Disclaimers
- Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- 10% Happier by Dan Harris
- The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Mindfulness Meditation 101 – Mind Over Munch
- Breathing Exercises for Anxiety – Mind Over Munch
Research Studies about Mindfulness & Health
- Emotional intelligence mediates the relationship between mindfulness and subjective well-being by Nicola S. Schutte & John M. Malouff (2011)
- Does emotional intelligence mediate the relation between mindfulness and anxiety and depression in adolescence? by Brigid Foster et al. (2018)