Mindfulness is the ability for humans to be fully present in the moment, and aware of who we are and what we are doing. It’s full awareness or our physical and mental presence. Mindfulness is also an acceptance of our thoughts and feelings without judgement. It can feel near impossible to be fully present at times when the world around us is full of distractions. We all have a million things going on in our lives and a list of tasks looming in the back of our minds. Whether you’re worried about something in the near future or dwelling on something in the past, it can be difficult to be present in the now. However, when was the last time you thought about nothing and gave your mind a break? When we practise and achieve a state of mindfulness, it can bring a variety of physical, psychological and social benefits.
How do you achieve mindfulness?
I bet as you’re reading this, your mind has already wandered off somewhere else. According to a Harvard study, the mind wanders roughly 47% of the time. That’s almost half of our lives our mind is trailing off and thinking about something else other than the present. There are numerous ways however to train yourself to think mindfully using meditation. Mindfulness mediation has deep roots in Buddhist culture but has slowly made its way into Western society since the late 1970s. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a full lotus position and pretending to be a statue. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, an internationally known scientist, writer, and meditation teacher, there are a few key skills to use when practising mindfulness.
- Focus on your breathing: especially when you’re feeling extreme emotions or stress.
- Pay attention to your senses and physical sensations: one by one, think about each of your senses and take in your current environment.
- Your thoughts and emotions do not define you: Pain is only temporary. When you’re in a negative mindset or pattern, understand that the feeling won’t last forever.
- Be aware of your judgements: At times, we can be very hard on ourselves. We may judge ourselves for something we’ve done or judge others. Once we realize our judgements, we can then begin to let go of them.
- Build awareness: Mindfulness isn’t just about focusing on who you are, but it’s about being aware of who you are as well. It’s important to accept that perfection isn’t possible, but transformation is. The most effective tool to achieve transformation is through mindfulness. With mindfulness meditation, you can focus on the parts of yourself you want to grow and flourish.
We all deal with different levels of stress on a day-to-day basis, so whether you have 5 minutes or an hour to spare during your day, try to find the time to practise these meditating skills. There are many different types of meditation you can try to practise to achieve mindfulness which you can explore here.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Many of us can relate that stress has impacted our health in one way or another either physically, emotionally or psychologically. When practising mindfulness meditation, there are numerous beneficial effects including:
- Improved focus
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved immune systems and sleep quality
- Increase of self awareness as well as the awareness of others
- Enhanced relationships and sociability
Mindfulness allows us to live moment by moment – which many of us forget to do. Sometimes we are stuck in the past by something that makes us feel ashamed or sad or angry. Other times we are fixated on what’s going to happen in the future that will cause us stress such as finances, work or family duties. By practising mindfulness, it allows you to shut off those voices and give yourself a moment to ground yourself and focus solely on what is happening in your life now. It also allows you to shut off the voices that bring negativity into your life. Instead of judging yourself or others for what they do or who they are, accept them instead. Instead of labeling something as good or bad, just accept (or acknowledge) that it exists. Accept who you are and grow into the person you want to be.
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh