Researchers Say You’re Probably Practicing Mindfulness Wrong. Here’s How to Do It Right

by Natalie Kiser

Woman looks out to ocean while practicing mindfulness

Are you making this mistake?

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Mindfulness is, well, everywhere these days. From mindful eating to mindful meditations to mindful cleaning (yes, mindful cleaning), there seems to be a way to integrate mindfulness into every part of your day. But how do you know if you’re practicing mindfulness correctly? A recent article published in the Clinical Psychology Review found that while many people practice mindfulness by simply bringing better awareness into their lives, this is not an accurate implementation of mindfulness practices.

See also: What Is Mindfulness, Really?

How do you know what a mindfulness practice is?

The article references both the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the semantic meaning of mindfulness in order to underscore the essence of a mindfulness practice. The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, developed in 2006 as a multifactorial scale for mindfulness, evaluates awareness, judgment (or lack there of), description, observation, and reaction (or lack there of). These five factors contribute to a more holistic understanding of what mindfulness is. So, just passively existing instead of consciously working through something? That’s not technically a mindfulness practice.

How mindfulness practices are represented

Popular culture represents mindfulness practices as almost interchangeable with the concept of awareness. You may have heard this during a mindfulness practice. Someone encouraged you to tune into your surroundings—or listen to your body. However, the other key element that typical mindfulness practices can neglect is the acceptance and engagement piece. In order to be mindful, you must be aware—and accepting—of your situation. The engagement component, which may involve working through your emotions or thoughts, can be much harder to implement. (There’s a reason why so many people neglect it.)

How to have a successful mindfulness practice

OK, so how exactly should you incorporate this concept of acceptance into your mindfulness practice? Instead of passively letting a thought or a strong emotion dissipate, try to work through it and process it—before letting it go. This isn’t easy, and it will take time. By fusing the concepts of acceptance, awareness, and engagement together, you’ll find yourself getting even more out of your mindfulness practice.

If you’re ready to get started on your mindfulness journey now, we love these three mindfulness meditations.

See also: Forgetful Much? Try This Neuroscientist’s Simple Exercise to Boost Focus and Attention

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