What is Mindfulness?
Are you annoyed by sleepless nights due to your mind being engrossed in endless thoughts? Do you feel anxious because your mind unconsciously focuses on things or events with no actual or potential existence? That being the case, you are not in a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the fundamental human ability to focus on being completely aware of yourself, knowing where you are and what you are up to, without judging or being interrupted by the surrounding environment. When you are mindful, you’re entirely attentive to what you are undertaking.
The concept may seem trivial, but it’s an annoying fact that our mind usually takes flight, resulting in our concentration on specific actions being lost. Spending a lot of your thinking time on making plans, solving problems, daydreaming, and being engulfed by negative and unproductive thoughts can be exhausting for the body and mind. Mindfulness is a technique to counter this diversion of thoughts. It uses techniques like breathing and guided imagery to help the body and mind relax. The relaxation of the body and mind results in the reduction of stress and anxiety.
Origin of Mindfulness
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation that dates back around 2500 years. The secularised practice of mindfulness entered the western world through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. He launched a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. This model of mindfulness was much successful and formally adopted by schools, hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.
Forms of mindfulness
You would have repeatedly heard a word, meditation. It is a technique of intentionally awakening to our thoughts, emotions, feelings and body sensations in the mental state of observance and acceptance. Let us make it more simple for you. Meditation is like observing our thoughts and bodily sensations peacefully rather than being of them. Mindfulness and meditation are the two areas that people usually find confusing and use interchangeably. The difference between the two is that meditation is practised at a specific moment.
In contrast, mindfulness is a practice that you can apply to any situation or activity throughout the day. Therefore, the term mindfulness meditation is used to define the action in which you deliberately make time to produce mindfulness. Some standard structured techniques of mindfulness meditation include;
This mindfulness meditation helps converge the focus on each body part, as evident from its name. You lie down on your back with extended legs. The arms are at your sides, and your palms face up. Then you put your attention slowly and deliberately to each part of your body. It follows an order where you start from the toes and proceed to the head and vice versa. During all this focus movement, you notice any emotion or sensation associated with a part of your body.
Movement mindfulness meditation
It is usually yoga or any other mind-body-related exercise to focus on various bodily sensations and breathing. You mindfully watch and let go of any thoughts that arise during the practice. Similarly, you can undertake this meditation in a slow walking manner as well.
Expanding awareness mindfulness meditation
Usually done in a sitting position, you can practice this form of mindfulness in any other position. In this mindfulness technique, you develop an awareness of your choice about the dominant sensation or feeling.
Breathing space meditation
This technique aims to create a mindful awareness of what you experience instead of just avoiding it. This mindfulness is usually practised in response to a highly stressful situation or the situation where you feel nervous or emotional.
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How to practice mindfulness?
So many of us consume our days running from one thing to the other. We remain busy and feel pressure from many sources. During all this hustle, we do not find time to focus on ourselves. We cannot even concentrate on each task that we undertake during the day. But we can avoid this pressure if we make a concerted effort. That way is practising mindfulness techniques in a way you should practice them. It is not a one for all-time process. It would be best if you worked routinely to make it a habit in your life. You can practice mindfulness in many ways that are simple and effective.
Mindfulness can be practised by:
We usually find it hard to slow things down in this busy and fast-moving world. That creates pressure and anxious feeling inside us. That, in turn, reduces our efficiency to focus on something and execute them. Therefore, it becomes a necessity to take time to focus on our environment. Our environment includes every feeling and sensation we develop by being exposed to the outer environment. We have become used to doing things in the hustle that strips us of the amusement we can otherwise attain by feeling each moment. Hence, it is crucial to pay attention to something to get a better taste.
Living in the moment
To enjoy your favourite food, you must smell each bite and eat slowly. The same is true for every task. You can enjoy your hectic job if we give it time and focus on each step. Living in the moment entails an open and accepting attention to everything you undertake. The technique helps you find joy in things that otherwise seem trivial.
Focusing on your breathing
Practice this breathing technique when you are engulfed by evil thoughts that you want to get rid of. It requires you to sit down and take a deep breath with your eyes closed. Focus on sensation, feeling and emotion is essential to create mindfulness. Thus, focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. This slight amount of time can help you overcome the unfettered thoughts.
Accepting yourself as you are
You often find yourself unhappy with yourself. This attitude causes more distress that can even lead to depression. Be your good friend and encourage yourself at each step. You cannot always be up for excellent work. Learning from these moments will create a lot of pleasant moments for you.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Practising mindfulness in your day to day activities can be of a lot of help. It helps you excel in any strata of life. You may be aware of some benefits that can be harnessed by practising mindfulness techniques. We list below the unique advantages you get if you develop mindfulness.
● Decreased Stress
Mindfulness has been proved to be an essential element to fight stress and anxiety. A comprehensive stress reduction program like MBSR has been seen reaping the benefits of mindfulness. You can attain a state of relaxation through mindfulness. The decreased stress, in turn, leads to more critical benefits such as:
- Improved Brain function
- Increased attentiveness;
- Increased focus and attention towards every task
- Increased efficiency
- Mental and perceptual clarity.
● Increased ability to deal with illness
Mindfulness can be much more helpful for patients suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer. Mindfulness cannot cure those chronic diseases but can make them bearable. Trials such as eCALM have proved that mindfulness helps in lowering stress symptoms. It improves spirituality and non-reactivity towards an unwanted experience. It also helps to deal with post-traumatic effects and eases fatigue in cancer patients.
● Improved general health
Apart from several mental health benefits that mindfulness offers, it helps in improving your overall health. Research conducted to assess the two dimensions of mindfulness suggests that practising it can help enhance certain health behaviours such as increased regularity of routine checkups, being physically active, wearing seat belts, and avoiding drug abuse.
● Increased resilience and efficiency
Improved mental and physical health status increased your efficiency multifold. It develops resilience to help you fight various emotional, psychological, and academic challenges. Mindfulness training boosts resilience inside children and helps regulate their emotions.
What Is Mindfulness
From the discussion, we can assert that practising and developing mindfulness is so important. It helps you at whatever stage of life you are. Mindfulness helps you to remain clear by directing your focus on your inner world. You know, we are taught to dismiss our thoughts and feelings altogether. Doing this creates a problem for us, and it creates separation from ourselves. Mindfulness practices rescue us here.
They help us reconnect with ourselves. As described above, these practices lead to many psychological and physical benefits. It improves our problem-solving capacity. It reduces stress. You can start feeling the benefits in a short time. From improving sleep to making your skin glow, it has wide-ranging benefits. Calming a racing mind isn’t that difficult. All you need’s a little training. By practising good mindfulness techniques, you can train your mind to calm down, whatever the situation is.
There are many perks of having a calm mind. Calming your mind will help you get a proper night sleep, improve your performance at work, and keep you relieved of stress.
Thanks for reading our article ‘What is Mindfulness?’
What to read next?
- Behan C. (2020). The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 37(4), 256–258. https://doi.org/10.1017/ipm.2020.38
- Matiz, A., Fabbro, F., Paschetto, A., Cantone, D., Paolone, A. R., & Crescentini, C. (2020). Positive Impact of Mindfulness Meditation on Mental Health of Female Teachers during the COVID-19 Outbreak in Italy. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(18), 6450. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186450
- Niazi, A. K., & Niazi, S. K. (2011). Mindfulness-based stress reduction: a non-pharmacological approach for chronic illnesses. North American journal of medical sciences, 3(1), 20–23. https://doi.org/10.4297/najms.2011.320
- Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 48(2), 198–208. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022062
- Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L. E., Astin, J. A., & Freedman, B. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness. Journal of clinical psychology, 62(3), 373–386. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20237
- Sharma H. (2015). Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu, 36(3), 233–237. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.182756