What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a popular buzzword these days. It’s written about in blogs, discussed on podcasts, and encouraged at corporate retreats.
But what is mindfulness and how should we go about understanding it and incorporating into our daily lives?
In his book, “Where Ever You Go, There You Are” originally published in 1994, John Kabat- Zinn introduces mindfulness meditation to the American public.
He explains to us that mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice that Sages, yogis, and Zen masters have been exploring for thousands of years.
This practice doesn’t have anything to do with becoming a Buddhist, just like prayer alone doesn’t make you a Christian.
But how it is related is that the Buddhist perspective encourages us to live in a way that promotes and encourages mental wakefulness and an intentional connection with who we are, the people we love, and the world in which we live.
How Can We incorporate Mindfulness Into Our Daily Lives?
Mindfulness is a practice that helps you increase awareness in your life. Awareness of your feelings, awareness of the events that are happening around you, and awareness of your experience with life.
Many people call being aware of what you are experiencing as being fully present. And research shows that being more present increases our quality of lives.
When we are not fully present we unconsciously move through our lives subjected to automatic behaviors or impulsively ruled by our strong emotions.
That’s where the importance of mindfulness comes in.
So, let’s talk about what Mindfulness is, how it can reduce emotional impulsivity and operating on autopilot, and help create a more positive connection to your experiences.
Mindfulness is a simple concept in a complicated world, so we have the tendency to overthink it in theory and in practice. However, mindfulness simply means paying attention on purpose in the present moment and doing it without judgment.
I’ll repeat that: Mindfulness simply means paying attention on purpose in the present moment and doing it without judgment.
The present moment is the only thing that really exists. The past is behind us and we can do nothing to change it and the future has not yet unfolded. So, all we have is the present moment.
How we respond to our thoughts and feelings and actions in the present moment shapes our experience with life. Although mindfulness is a simple practice, it is not an easy one.
Some are guilty of moving through each moment so attached and controlled by their feelings that those feelings dominate their lives.
While others are guilty of becoming so disconnected with their emotions, that moment to moment, they have no awareness of what they are really feeling.
And, many more of us are so used to multitasking, running on autopilot, and packing our lives with so many obligations that our mind is constantly spinning and the mere thought of slowing down might be the very thing that overwhelms us.
Sometimes mindfulness requires that in the moment, we face strong negative emotions and work to accept them, versus trying to avoid or change them. This is why many see mindfulness meditation as daunting or impossible.
But facing our feelings with awareness and nonjudgment can help us move through those emotions more effectively and more importantly build resilience.
I referred to Mindfulness as a practice because it does take practice. The beauty of this practice is that it can also help you become more connected with positive feelings like joy and happiness and help you be more present as you experience them. This connection enriches our lives.
How Can You Start a Mindful Practice?
So, How can you start a Mindful Practice? Start with this…
When you are experiencing a moment with no judgment, pay attention to what you feel, what you are doing, and the people that are there. Bring some awareness to your breath and breathe slowly and deeply.
Try not to focus on the past or think about “what ifs” in the future. Just focus your attention on the present. And if you can do this, you have officially started a Mindful practice.