Mindfulness as a practice is slowly becoming popular. People are incorporating the ability to be fully present at the moment and are seeing positive results in their daily lifestyles, like reduced stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms.
What is mindfulness? How does it work?
By definition, mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. Although the origin of mindfulness stems from Buddhism, it’s secular practice became more prominent and well versed during the 1980’s when Jon Kabat Zinn, pioneer of mindfulness practice, presently known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) gained popularity.
On most days, whether we are working on any important project or simply taking an evening stroll by the lake, very rarely do we experience and attend to the things around us. We are preoccupied with either existing thoughts or experiences felt by us.
Mindfulness allows us to step out of our ‘auto-pilot’ mode and helps build our awareness of the present moment- awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. So, it primarily involves being fully aware at the moment without getting overwhelmed or carried away by what is happening around you.
Mindfulness can be practised throughout the day
We’re all busy with our lives and might not get the time to practice mindfulness, however, it can be practiced informally throughout the day:
- Pick an activity part of your daily morning routines, chores and leisurely activities. A few examples could be, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, going for a morning walk, washing dishes or making yourself a warm cup of coffee. The possibilities and choices are endless!
- When you do the activity, totally focus on what you are doing: the bodily sensations, what you can see, hear, smell, taste and feelings around the time.
- Again and again, your attention might wander; but the trick is, the moment you acknowledge that it has wandered bring your attention back to the activity at hand.
Hence, it’s not that difficult. Regular practice of mindfulness can help you build in more focus, concentration, improve your relationships and career as well.
It has a deeper meaning
Mindfulness is not “thinking about nothing”, rather being fully aware of your thoughts and feelings, without being judgmental. Also, It’s not “long periods of passive sitting and gazing”, rather it can be active and engaging: mindfulness can be incorporated while eating, walking, talking and so on.
Here’s a small exercise for you to witness how mindfulness can impact behaviour:
- Take a minute or so to think of an experience you’ve had in the office (or elsewhere) when you reacted in a way that you later regretted. Take a piece of paper or talk to a person close to you, suggesting: “The stimulus was ____ and my reaction was ____.”
- Now, take a step back, and imagine how things might have unfolded if you would have been more mindful before reacting. Discuss it with your friend or by yourself for a couple of minutes.
Practice makes perfect. Mindfulness is nothing but an experience. Try it out yourself and you will be able to see the change. Let’s start the journey towards a mindful living from today itself!