The Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness


We all get stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration, annoyance and jealousy. Mindfulness can decrease these negative emotions in your life. If you've ever been to SpaSophia we've probably shared mindfulness based life lessons and advice with you. While mindfulness may sound a bit vague, it's actually one of the few philosophies that has been validated by science. Mindfulness based therapies have been widely adapted in schools, prisons, hospitals, rehab facilities, mental health clinics and other places. Spa Sophia is a big fan of mindfulness and has seen it work miracles for our clients. So what is mindfulness, and what are the benefits? Let us give you a little introduction...

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness comes from anapanasati, a form of Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness was then made popular in the Western world by Jon Kabat-Zin, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, in the 70's. He created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which was quickly adapted for therapies in clinical psychology and psychiatry.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment." In other words, living in the now. This sounds very simple, but can be quite challenging to practice in daily life.

Ever not remembered wether or not you brushed your teeth or locked your car, or had a moment where you discovered the food you just started eating was suddenly all gone? And by gone we mean: You ate it without realizing. These things happen because we're constantly thinking about the past, worrying about the future, or distracting ourselves otherwise. We're hardly ever in the moment, consciously focussing on the task we're doing at present. Mindfulness teaches you to do just that.

mindfulness tips stress anxiety spa sophia venice ca los angelesHow Is Mindfulness Practiced?

Mindfulness is practiced by deliberately focussing on the present as it is, without judging. A million thoughts will enter our minds regardless, because that's just how we're wired. This is okay though, that's where the "without judging" part comes in. If thoughts come to you,  just accept them and then let them go. What you don't do is start thinking about the thought, or getting annoyed with yourself for having the thought. This takes you out of the moment.

An example: You're driving to work and suddenly are thinking about your ex. Hey, we've all been there... But just let that thought come. Don't start thinking about if it means you're not over him/her or about all the things you still want to say. Don't judge yourself for having the thought either. Accept that it's there, and then let it float away by focussing on the road or whatever else is in your view.

It will be difficult at first, but repeated practice will slowly rewire your brain, making it easier and easier until it's a habit.

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

Mindfulness teaches you to see the moment as it is, without adding your own past experiences or hypotheses to it. Instead of presuming someone said something for reasons you've come up with yourself, you focus on the facts. This helps you see things more clearly and make better decisions.

Research has also found that mindfulness is an effective way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can help you cope with anything from daily annoyances like traffic on the 405 to the loss of a loved one. And because mindfulness removes the clutter from your brain, you're also more open, which leads to more creativity and - although hard to prove scientifically - opportunities. Mindfulness therefore makes you happier, calmer and healthier.

Need some extra relaxation to kickstart and practice your mindfulness? Come to our boutique spa on 1027 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice and enjoy a lovely massage, facial or healing Ayurvedic treatment. Book one online or call us at (310) 564 6676.