How many times have you felt like you're not concentrating enough? That you haven't really enjoyed the moment? I bet thousands of times. Well, mindfulness is here to prove that it is much more than a fancy buzzword.
The word "mindfulness" has been here for a while now, and though it might sound quite trendy and interesting, some people don't really know what it really is.
Let me paint you the picture: You're doing a task and suddenly, without you realizing it, you're on a different task. Reading without paying attention to words and meaning, scrolling through social media while having lunch or even spending time with your family.
That's the purpose of mindfulness. To create awareness, attention and focus on the present moment.
People tend to keep their minds on the past or constantly planning for the future, which when practiced too much becomes a huge source of stress.
What is mindfulness then?
Mindfulness is the process of cultivating our ability to be attentive to present experience (whether thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations), awakening from behaviors that are routine or automatic.
It’s easy to confuse mindfulness with other concepts, but…
It is not meditation
Mindfulness can be considered as a state of mind based on being aware of the present moment; meditation techniques will serve as pathways to this state. Whilst meditation is something you do for a set amount of time, mindfulness can be practiced constantly.
It has nothing to do with religion
Although the origin of mindfulness is based on Buddhist teachings, you don't need to practice this religion or any other to practice it. Meditation based on mindfulness has been proven and validated through extensive scientific research as a practice that trains the ability to pay attention, without any spiritual or religious background involved.
Mindfulness is not about being calm
We often expect mindfulness will bring us calm and relaxation. But mindfulness is just about noticing whatever experience we're having, including all the thoughts, feelings or physical sensations that are a part of it, even the unpleasant ones.
The benefits of mindfulness
- It allows us to train the capacity of concentration, reducing mental distraction and increasing self-knowledge and self-awareness.
- It promotes the development of empathy, compassion and patience. It allows us to enjoy the present moment. Reduces or avoids impulsivity, regulating emotional responses. Encourages different attitudes such as learning not to judge and not to hold on to things and feelings.
How to be more mindful?
- Notice the everyday. Pay special attention to common practices. Focus on the temperature of the shower you’re taking or the aroma of your perfume, the people on your commute or the taste and textures of your food. Avoid looking at your phone or the TV when doing some of these things.
- Daily habits. You can start by closing a particular time to try and be more mindful, like your morning coffee. Leave all the other things aside and focus on that moment. Extrapolate from there.
- Try something new. Something as simple as switching your regular lunch spot can contribute to being more mindful. Notice the new surroundings, all the details around you and try to stop the “monkey mind” as much as you can. That is, don’t think about what’s going to happen after lunch or what happened before it. Just enjoy the moment.
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