Develop a Mindfulness Practice With Support From Your Local Library
How libraries can help you feel happier, calmer, and more focused
You may have heard the term mindfulness tossed around even if though you may not have known what this self-care practice involves. Perhaps you imagined a person sitting cross-legged and chanting Om with their eyes closed. While meditation is one of the most commonly practiced mindfulness techniques, plenty of others are worth trying, and you can learn about them all at your local library.
Public libraries are the perfect environment in which to practice mindfulness. Libraries are naturally quiet, relaxing environments where people go to read, learn, and escape from everyday life. People from all walks of life can go in and enjoy a safe, welcoming environment and use a wealth of resources for free (or nearly free). Accessibility is the priority! So, what better place to go to explore the concept of mindfulness? With the help of your neighborhood library, you can start exploring mindfulness activities today to become a more Zen version of yourself tomorrow.
What's the Deal With Mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is being fully present and giving all of your attention to what you are experiencing in the current moment. Sounds pretty basic, right? However, you might be surprised to learn how often your mind wanders throughout the day, perhaps even distracting you when you are trying to focus. While this can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are trying to work or study, it is perfectly natural. With your attention being diverted constantly from one thing to another, your mind starts to lose its ability to concentrate.
Want to take back control? Start a mindfulness practice and stick with it. Yes, your mind will wander (a lot!) in the beginning. Seriously, it’s like herding cats. But, just keep practicing. Over time, you will be amazed at how much easier it gets.
The Top Benefits of a Mindfulness Practice
In times of unprecedented stress levels, it is extremely important to take care of your mental health. A mindfulness practice may be just what you need to fortify your self-care toolbox and tackle stress. Being able to twist yourself into a pretzel or take a vow of silence is completely optional.
Some of the top benefits of starting a mindfulness practice are:
- Alleviating anxiety – Feeling anxious and worried seems to be a normal state of existence for many people today. Mindfulness teaches you to focus on the present moment, so it’s a simple but powerful tool for reducing anxious feelings.
- Increasing your mental focus – Chronic stress can take a toll on your memory and attention. Brain fog makes tasks more challenging. It can interfere with working, studying, or even brushing up your resume for new opportunities. Practicing mindfulness can help increase your attention span, which is excellent for enhancing your work and school performance.
- Boosting your immunity – When you are stressed, your immune system can take a hit. By calming your mind with mindfulness techniques, you can help reduce inflammation and strengthen immune function. A study published in the Annals of New York Academy of Sciences showed a relationship between mindfulness meditation, inflammation, and immunity.
- Building your resilience to stress – Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate stress from your life completely. The next best thing is to increase your resilience so that stressors no longer have the same harmful impact. Mindfulness can help reduce your perception of stress, making life feel a bit easier.
All it takes to become a calmer, healthier, more focused version of yourself is to start a mindfulness practice. The best thing is you can do it all for free with the help of your friendly neighborhood library.
How Can Libraries Help You Start a Mindfulness Practice?
Needless to say, libraries have plenty of books on the topics like mindfulness. But have you ever tried to meditate while reading the instructions at the same time? It doesn't make you feel so, well, mindful. Multitasking is the opposite of mindfulness!
When the goal is to clear your mind and set your attention to a single task (like following your breath or visualizing a relaxing scene), you are much better off listening to the instructions rather than trying to read and memorize them. Thankfully, the library has got your back. An audiobook can walk you through guided mindfulness techniques as you relax with your eyes closed.
Do you prefer group classes? The library has got you covered there too. As a bonus, taking a mindfulness class with a group may help you stay more focused since you won't have the distractions of family members, pets, or TV, like at home.
Join a Mindfulness Challenge
Participating in a mindfulness challenge is a fun way to get started. Libraries in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, kicked off the new year with a mindfulness challenge. Patrons were encouraged to participate in various mindfulness activities to help relieve post-holiday stress amidst the pandemic.
Take Advantage of Free Digital Mindfulness Resources
Mindfulness is not just for us busy adults. Children can benefit from improved attention and stress reduction as well. The Oakland Public Library System in California offers a series of free recorded mindfulness programs for families.
And, yes, there's an app for that! The Calm app provides various guided meditation and breathing exercises. San Mateo County libraries allow patrons to check out a premium Calm account for six months.
Check Out Lists of Mindfulness Resources Curated by Librarians
If there's one thing librarians love to do, it is to create curated lists of resources for their patrons. Finding the most relevant sources on a given topic in various formats and compiling it all into one nice neat list brings them joy. Library staff in the Chicago Public Library System created a list of mindfulness resources to honor mindfulness month in April. If your local library doesn't yet have a curated list of mindfulness resources, just ask!
Enjoy Mindfulness Sessions in the Library
Many libraries are starting to offer more in-person classes again, so why not take advantage of mindfulness programs at your library? The Denver Public Library System provides various mindfulness programs for seniors, including meditation and Qigong classes.
A More Focused Mind Starts at Your Public Library
Don’t have the mindfulness resources you’re looking for in your neighborhood library? Never fear! Librarians are always looking for ways to connect their patrons with the resources they want and need. Reach out to your local librarians and ask for programs, books, and digital resources to help you become a more mindful human.