What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means to focus on the present moment with intention, and also accepting it without judgment.
Being mindful means that you are able to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of your feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, as well as what is going on in your surrounding environment.
It means that you aren’t so focused on the past or the future that you are missing what is happening right now.
Being mindful also means that you are accepting of your thoughts and feelings without judging them, or believing that they are right or wrong.
In simple terms, it means that you are aware of everything going on around you and how it makes you feel.
How Mindfulness Works
Mindfulness centers on the art of meditation. A person can meditate when engaging in activities such as walking, tai chi, qigong, hatha yoga or while remaining in a still seated position. During this process, the participant can recite a mantra or opt to stay quiet while focusing on the breathing rhythm. The key to cultivating mindfulness is blocking out thoughts about the past or future and paying more attention to what is going on in the body. When thoughts wander, a person goes back to a mindful state by focusing on breaths or the mantra being recited repeatedly.
With continued practice, individuals can learn to apply mindfulness in everyday life. For example, a mindful person can work toward being non-judgmental by identifying prejudices in personal thoughts and make efforts to replace them with an impartial perspective. Through mindfulness, it is also possible to create space between a stressful situation and yourself, and then choose how to respond. Taking a step back from negative thoughts helps you to observe them more objectively.
Mindfulness allows us to take some time out of our stressful day to remove ourselves from our thoughts and thereby get some rest and relaxation.
But it’s not really just about meditation. What mindfulness also means is being constantly aware of your own thoughts as you go throughout your day. Some people will tell you to be ‘mindful’ of your body, or ‘mindful’ of your environment. But really what you should be focusing on is just what you’re mindful of.
Next time you go out for a nice walk with family, or next time you do something else that you should be enjoying, just make a note of whether you’re really focused on what you’re doing and whether you’re actively engaging in it… or is your mind elsewhere? Are you actually worrying about work? Or stressing about other things?
Mindfulness teaches us to be more aware of our thoughts as that way, we can decide that we’re not going to let them affect us and because that way we can then make the conscious effort to refocus and to decide to be happy.
Mindfulness is not mysticism or linked to religion and it’s not a cure-all therapeutic technique. All this is a tool and better yet, a state of mind. With practice, you can learn to be more in-tune with your own thoughts and that can change everything.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation has been associated with many health benefits. It helps to relax and clear the mind while at the same time slowing down heart rate, thoughts and anxiety. Consequently, taking a few minutes of your time to practice this technique on a daily basis can help to reduce stress.
When we are mindful, it helps us to deal with emotions in a healthy way. This practice can help us understand, tolerate and deal with feelings by altering our habitual responses and deciding how to act. In doing so, we learn more about our thinking process and are able to label emotions and thoughts instead of letting them dictate and overpower our behavior.
Besides easing stress and helping people become more aware of emotions and thoughts, mindfulness can help people to:
- Become more emotionally stable
- Keep anxiety and depression at bay
- Improve memory, focus and sleep
- Reduce feelings of anger and moodiness
- Enhance self-awareness, fear modulation and intuition
Given the many health benefits that have been tied to it, mindfulness has grown to become a powerful tool that is used in therapy. Therapists who practice it have reported better outcomes with their patients. For people who want to cultivate personal awareness, reduce stress or learn how to better handle emotions, mindfulness can play an instrumental role in achieving these goals. Practitioners of this technique believe that over time, mindfulness becomes fixed in a person’s way of thinking.