What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of open and active awareness in the present. When you are mindful, you can notice your thoughts, feelings near and far without determining them good or bad and right or wrong. In lieu of letting the life passes you by. It means you are in a live situation and in a conscious state of experience.
But in my own explanation, it is a gentle endeavor that is continuous and present with experience. On the other hand, we can say, mindfulness is awareness in a specific way. It should be on a purpose, in the present situation and non-judgmental.
More clearly we can say, Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of our realization, maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, our feelings, our bodily sensations and our surrounding environment. It also includes acceptance, attention, thoughts, and feelings without judging them.
When we practice mindfulness, generally our thoughts tune what we are sensing in the present situation rather than discussing the past or thinking about the future. Although the main source of it is in Buddhist Meditation, a secular practice mindfulness went in the American mainstream in recent years, a few years ago through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, that launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the year of 1979. From that time till today, many studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, in particular, motivating numberless programs to adept this Program for schools, jail, hospitals and many areas.
See More: Jon Kabat-Zinn: What is Mindfulness?
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Studies have found that practicing Mindfulness can give you various physical, mental, psychological and social benefits. Some of the benefits of Mindfulness are –
It is good for our bodies. Practicing mindfulness boosts our immune system and helps us to gain the power to combat against various illness.
- It is good for your mind. Studies proved that practicing mindfulness for a few weeks can minimize our negative emotions and thoughts and helps to reduce stress, helps us to fight against depression and prevent relapse.
- Mindfulness is good for our brain. Studies have also found that it helps to increase the density of gray matter in the brain which is linked to learning, emotion, empathy and memory power.
- Mindfulness increases our focus. It helps us to tune and improves our awareness and memory power.
- Mindfulness stimulates feelings and kindness: Studies have suggested that mindfulness trains you to be more sympathetic and sensitive to others and controls emotions. It also enhances self-compassion as well.
- Mindfulness increase relationships. Studies have suggested that it makes couples more satisfied and happy in their relationship, helps to feel optimistic and stress-free and helps to get close to each other.
- Mindfulness if good for parents and would be parents. Studies have also suggested that it may minimize pregnancy related anxiety, stress, and depression. Parents who practice mindfulness show better parenting skills and better relationship with kids.
- Mindfulness helps schools. There are so many scientific evidence that practice mindfulness in the classroom enhances attention and concentration among the students.
- Mindfulness helps prisoners. Studies suggested that mindfulness can minimize aggressiveness, mental disturbance and increase awareness of thoughts among the prisoners.
- Mindfulness helps to combat against obesity. It is proved that practicing mindful eating regularly boost healthier eating habits and people can lose weight.
See More: Jon Kabat-Zinn: The Science of Mindfulness
How to Cultivate Mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of our realization, maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our thoughts, our feelings, our bodily sensations and our surrounding environment. It also includes acceptance, attention, thoughts, and feelings without judging them.
Cultivating Mindfulness is, in accordance with Kaplan:
- Try to notice your feelings and thoughts and your surrounding actions happening without judging or criticism.
- Try to observe what is occurring around you.
- Try to be fully aware of your senses moment to moment.
- Living here and now without resorting to old patterns and automatic reactions.
- Practicing acceptance of your own experience, if good or bad or be it neutral.
Practicing meditation regularly is very good in developing a mindful way of thinking and attitude, I must say that it is not the only way by which you can cultivate your mindfulness, rather it can help you to find the best path of mindfulness.
You can practice the below-mentioned steps to cultivate mindfulness.
Scan your associations.
Try to study and to develop and to observe where your thoughts go even when you are not paying your proper attention. Try to notice your attention even when you are driving, or walking or feeling sleepy or in sleep. These are some clues that you can use.
Try to pay attention to your dreams; you can keep a paper and pen by the side of your bed and practice writing whatsoever you can call up when you wake up. Dreams often represent you to solve some problem that is been pushed into the unconscious.
Try to remember back your life story. When you began to afraid when you felt that you were different, when you started to think to go wrong or what was started to happen around you at that time.
How mindfulness really help us?
Mindfulness is a spiritual faculty that is to be considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment according to the teaching of Buddha.
Nowadays people are very busy in their daily hard and fast schedule. In the age of globalization, some of the people need to do multi-tasking job, because the world is going so fast and due to that reason people changed their style of life. The ability of multi-tasking sometimes proved great and helped the human in many ways. But when we discuss our health, this multi-tasking job affects us, both in physically and mentally. It has also an effect on our relationship.
According to Gautama, “a person should establish mindfulness in his or her day to day life as much as possible a calm awareness of his or her body, mind, feelings and dhammas. Mindfulness practice inherited from the Buddhist tradition and used throughout the world to alleviate for mental and physical conditions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and drug addiction.
At present time most of the people practice mindfulness through meditation. They sit comfortably and try to open their mind to the awareness of the current moment.
- Mindfulness focuses on your attention and awareness. Yes, meditation is also very important for mindfulness. Though there is a bit difference between Meditation and Mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is defined as being attentive and aware; on the other hand, meditation is defined in engaging a mental exercise, where concentration on a person’s breathing and or repetition of mantras for reaching a level of spiritual awareness.
- If you practice mindfulness, it not only helps you to overcome stress and depression for your daily work schedule but also helpful for you to lead a blissful life. You can practice mindfulness anytime you wish.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness improves your well-being, your physical health, and mental health.
- It helps us live a satisfied life.
- Helps us to become fully engaged in activities.
- Helps us to make the better connection with others.
- Help to relieve stress.
- Help to prevent heart disease.
- Help to relieve anxiety, depression and blood pressure.
- Help to reduce chronic pain.
- Improve sleeping.
- Help us to prevent gastrointestinal problems.
6 Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness outside of meditation
Mindfulness is practiced by paying careful observation and awareness, to what is occurring in the present situation surrounded by you. It can be a light sound, a taste or a smell, a feeling or a perception or a mental activity (if it is an emotion and or, a thought). You can practice it for a few minutes when you lay on the bed or you can practice it in a park, or in a queue, it is fully up to you when you will feel comfortable to practice your Mindfulness. There is no hard and fast place to practice; you can try it anywhere you like.
Difference between Mindfulness and Meditation:
Generally, practicing Meditation can be found in most of the religious and or spiritual history. It is said that Gautama Buddha did not invent Meditation. Though, he did invent the practice of realization through consciousness, which we called ‘Mindfulness’. Anyone can practice it inside or outside the formal meditation techniques. Although, Meditation is a technique that teaches us to train the mind or induce a mode of self-consciousness.
How to practice Mindfulness outside of Meditation?
At first, you should try 3-4 conscious breaths, when you rest your observation on the sensation of your breath comes in and goes out from your body. You should be very careful about all the happenings in your present moment, which is the core of your Mindfulness.
You may feel really amazing when you will start learning Mindfulness outside of Meditation, for instance when you eat something, the direction is to pay a complete attention to the food you like to eat or the piece of food you raised to your mouth, the food touched your tongue, chewed and finally swallowed. Now you felt if the food is good, bad or just delicious. You might think it is really delicious.
Benefits of Mindfulness outside of Meditation:
There may be several benefits of Mindfulness outside of Meditation practice, but we have described six benefits.
- Mindfulness allows our mind relax from our addiction on discursive lengthy thoughts. Certainly, we should think everything in time, but our mind is very frequent about the past and future of stressful thinking. Generally, our mind replays miserable experiences from the past and copy the sad structure about the future. Beyond doubt is very tiring and not very productive. To pay attention about the occurring in the present is always good, and give us relief from our painful thoughts and repetitive thought patterns.
- Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. Mindfulness helps us to manage the sad feelings when these kinds of thoughts abrupt our entire sense of self and feel more pain in mind.
- Mindfulness changes our dull and monotonous activity into an event and helps us to deal it joyfully.
- Mindfulness helps us to become free from judgment. Non-judgmental realization of whatsoever exists in our sense is the main characteristic of Mindfulness. It helps us to become amiable and open-minded, free to suppress the burden of judging.
- Mindfulness helps us to make our wise selections. When our minds are seized in painful thought structures, it is very difficult to see through the mental jumble. In this time we naturally get confused. Then, we are more probable to reply unnaturally and unskillfully, but we do regret later.
- Mindfulness opens our mind and heart. Practice Mindfulness in the time of joy and sad experiences, we are more probable to conscious of our reactive approach, can take a conscious breath and can choose the more skillful way to respond.