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.
What's your favorite color? Why is it your favorite color? What color is your car? Why did you want that color? There could be more of a reason than "I don't know, I just do," or "it's pretty." Colors, much like music, affect our mood! Kinda cool right?
Right, But Why?
Color is a pretty powerful tool. Often times we can use it to manipulate mood, soothe our stress, help us study for an exam, liven a charades party in the living room, or even spark sudden hunger. Color therapy was once a thing of ancient times, dating all the way back to the Egyptians who studied it and used it for curing an array of ailments. (1)
In more modern times, while still a topic of study and of science, the thought of color and its influence on mood or any other aspect of oneself has somewhat fallen into the realm of hokey gimmicks. The most notable is the mood ring, the result of binding thermochromic liquid crystals to quartz stones. The mood ring changes colors based upon the temperature and blood pressure of the wearer and has been around since 1975. (2) This, combined with the pop psychology of the basic mood/color correspondance used to teach children how best to describe their developing emotions has many ignoring the very legitimate effect color has on them.
Consider the color palettes for the clothes or home decor you chose from depending on the season. Throughout the year, as the light dims and the temperature drops, you may find that the colors people adorn themselves with migrate through the spectrum. In the spring, you may notice a lot of bright pastels and popping sharp colors, often desribed as "loud." Why? Becuase it mirrors the vibrancy of spring, the re-birth of the plant and animal life-cycle and the increace in visial vibrancy of the world around us as we begin to receive more light. (3) Summer may not necessarily bring much of a visual change, but come autumn and winter, you may notice deeper anad richer colors as well as the use of more patterns. You'll see these same changes again exhibited in home decor, or at least, in advertisments for home decor. (4)
Those are some outward expression of how color influences and is influenced by mood and other external environmental factors. But this post is focused on mood, so, what has science to say of the matter?
Well, Here is Some Research:
If you want proof that something works, perhaps look to see what folks in marketing do. We all know the adage "sex sells," but so too does color it seems. Red for instance, is known to be a color associated with excitement and aggression and which draws attention. Hence, branding with red is known to induce or at least heighten a desire to consume; to buy, in other words. Whereas subdued colors such as black and silver are seen as more "elite" and therefore might be better suited to an informed decision on a luxury item. (5)
Meanwhile, one study sought to directly assess the relationship between color and psychological function. (6) Several interesting points worth summarizing include -
- certain shades of green seem to stimulate appetite in a majority of subjects.
- red was largely seen as an "alert" color, which made subjects more cautious, focused, and determined when given a task.
- beige and grey were seen as emotionally neutral colors, evoking little or no emotional change or response.
- blue, colloquially known as the "color of communication," was largely seen as calming or otherwise soothing. It was only in subjects already displaying a lower sense of joy or emotional drive that blue was seen as somehow "sad."
- likewise, yellow was commonly seen as a joyous color.
Another study, focusing on college students, found that yellow is "thought of as joyful, outgoing, open, and friendly." (7) This is not necessarily surprising as yellow, which mimics the color of sunlight, produces a kind of placebo effect wherein one may feel a boost in mood owing to a percieved increase in vitamin D. As stated in the article, "yellow ribbons have been used as a sign of hope and optimism since the nineteenth century."
Ok, So What Does This All Mean?
It means that you can make an informed decision on how you choose to adorn your environment. It means achieving a mode of peace and harmony within and around yourself by using color to help influnece your mood in a positive manner. It also means that you can help others, whether by dressing in colors you know they may like or offering them a space in which the colors may bring them calm or invigoration. You can seek additonal knowledge to further you understanding of this and other topics, and thus, live wholly.
Written & Edited by our fantastic editor: Mr. Victor Z. Glenn
Research Conducted by Miss Kaie & Victor Z Glenn
Photos: Miss Kaie & EG Prophoto
Note from the Team.
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