November 16, 2020

A Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness practice is the utilization of various tools and techniques that train the brain to arrive in a mindful state. The practice emphasizes non-judgment, non-attachment, as well as acceptance of the entire journey even when it is challenging. For those who are new to mindfulness practices, know that with consistency the experience will gradually come with more ease. That said, even with regular practice, some days will be more difficult and others more accessible.

Research shows that Mindfulness-based therapy was effective in supporting treatment for anxiety, depression and addiction. It has been shown to reduce these symptoms as well as lessen fatigue, pain and insomnia. Preliminary studies show the benefits of mindfulness on the immune system and overall physical and mental health.  

There are three primary techniques to beginning mindfulness practice. In order to begin, carve out some time and create a safe space yourself. Even just one minute of mindfulness can be a great introduction if you’re unfamiliar or hesitant to begin. Over time, as you feel more comfortable, begin adding to your time and remember to release any pressure, judgments or expectations of yourself or the practice. Also, note that it is natural for your mind to wander. When it does, let go of the interruption by returning to the tool. Eyes can be closed or if that is not comfortable, relax your eyes on one spot. Make sure the body is comfortable. For some, sitting in a chair is more comfortable. For others, sitting on the floor or even lying down can be most comfortable. Whichever position feels right for your body is the best way to begin.

Follow these steps:

1. Observe your breath. Without changing anything, notice your breathing. Feel your inhales and your exhales. Notice the natural expansion and contraction of your body as you breathe. After a few moments begin to slow your breathing down, calmly lengthening the inhalations and exhalations again, simply observing your breath and how it feels.

2. Focus your mind on a word/words that help to anchor, ground, center, inspire or uplift you. Examples: Peace, Let Go, I Am. Keep repeating the word to yourself.

3. Body scan. Practice bringing awareness to parts of the body, scanning from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Example: Become aware of your head. Feel your head. Become aware of your face. Feel your face. Become aware of your neck, throat, shoulders. Feel your neck, throat, shoulders. Travel down the entire body with the intention of awareness, observation and feeling without judgments.

Try all of the techniques and whichever one you connect with most, practice consistently for a period of time. As you become more comfortable, you will begin to notice stronger effects and be able to increase your mindfulness time. Note any differences that you experience after the practice and throughout your days.

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Mindfulness practice is one of the many tools that Charlie Health's Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) employs. Charlie Health believes in a comprehensive model of recovery. For teens and young adults struggling with mental health or substance use disorders, it is important to seek help. Charlie Health is here to support you by finding a personalized treatment program that is right for you.

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Claire Ellison, LCSW

Laura Sebulsky, MBSR

Director of Admissions and
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