What is mindfulness?
Looking it up by definition, mindfulness is "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something." So, it's a mental state wherein you are aware, but how is it achieved and what does it mean for your day to day life?
This mental state is achieved by focusing one's thoughts and feelings on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This can be used as a self-therapeutic technique.
Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts though can seem trying at times. Especially as mindfulness so intimately involves acceptance of the thoughts and feelings that you are allowing to occupy so much of your conscious mind. Meaning that we have to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
A recent study lent this perspective on the topic, saying "though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond." (1)
A Few Things to Know About Mindfulness:
1) Mindfulness is not obscure or exotic. It’s familiar to us because it’s what we already do, how we already are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names.
2) Mindfulness is not a special added thing we do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. But we can cultivate these innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, the people we work with, and the institutions and organizations we take part in
3) You don’t need to change. Solutions that ask us to change who we are or become something we’re not have failed us over and over again. Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
4) Mindfulness has the potential to become a transformative social phenomenon.
Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn. It’s a way of living. Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better. It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems. (2)
So, to simplify, mindfulness is best thought of as a balancing a healthy self consciousness with a strong sense of the world around you.
-from the Mayo Clinic.
-from Pocket Mindfulness.
Note from the Team.
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