In order to fully comprehend everything you are about to learn from this site, you need to have a working knowledge of a few key topics. One of those is mindfulness. So, let’s look at what it is and why it is important to you in your life.
Mindfulness is defined in the dictionary as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” However, we are more interested in a different definition:
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Why are we more interested in this? Because it can be easy to rush through life without noticing life.
Your mental wellbeing can be improved by paying more attention to what is happening in the here and now – to your own thoughts and feelings and all that is happening in the world around you. By paying attention to these things we can enjoy life more. It will also allow us to understand ourselves better.
Personally, I have benefitted from practising mindfulness in a number of ways. Almost all of my social interactions, whether these are direct or indirect, are more considered than before I began to practise. Thinking before I speak, something people are often keen to tell you to do, really is a virtue unto itself. Whilst I have not perfected this virtue, I have made great strides. Further, mindfulness has allowed me to care less about what other people think of me and worry less about the outcomes of things I have no control over.
Sounds good, right?
6 Reasons why it is time for you to start practising mindfulness:
- Stress reduction. Backed up by a plethora of scientific studies, practising mindfulness can really have a massive impact on your stress. This is partly due to the other reasons listed below but also due to how there is, over time, a significant reduction in anxiety.
- Reduced rumination. Regular practise is proven to reduce rumination. You’ll worry less because you’ll realise worrying is, in the majority of cases, pointless.
- Better memory. This one is slightly odd but it turns out being more mindful also improves your memory! A 2019 study by Jha et al. documented the benefits of mindfulness among two military groups, one who practised regularly and one that never did. Results showed that working memory was improved in the group that regularly practised mindfulness!
- Improved focus. There is a direct connection between practising mindfulness and improved cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning. Being less concerned about other things and being more in tune with yourself is great for getting things done!
- Less likely to react emotionally to bad situations. Research shows that people who practise mindfulness are able to emotionally detach themselves from upsetting situations. This one is particularly useful if you have to deal with members of the public on a regular basis – especially if they like to complain. Very applicable also to all sorts of working and personal life events.
- Satisfaction in relationships. Several studies show that a person who is mindful can respond better to relationship stress and be more open to those important talks which we all must have from time to time. This is true in both romantic and platonic relationships!
This is not an exhaustive list of all of the benefits to practising mindfulness (other studies point to enhanced self-insight, changes in morality, increased immune system functioning, reduction to task effort and having thoughts that are not related to the task at hand, to name just a few).
How do I practise mindfulness?
The next question I can hear you asking is how do I practice it now that I know how good it is for me?
Essentially, practising mindfulness is really quite easy. It just involves you thinking about what you are doing. Seriously, that’s all. When I say think about what you are doing, however, I mean really think.
When you drink water from a glass take the time to think about the sensation of your skin on the glass, the water moving through your mouth and down your throat. Being fully aware of everything that is happening is mindfulness.
Try it now: grab a drink and pay attention to how it feels to drink it. The liquid moving about your mouth and down towards your digestive system. Is it refreshing? Focus on that. How does your throat feel when swallowing? Take your time and drink slowly.
If you have just done this then congratulations! You’ve taken your first steps in your mindfulness journey!
I will be exploring more ways to be mindful, including of course mindfulness meditation, in the future. Check out this post on how to create a mindfulness habit.
In the meantime, try to fully experience everything you do. Always pay attention to the feelings you have when doing otherwise mundane tasks. From laundry to jogging and bathing to breathing.
If you have experience with mindfulness let us know what it is in the comments below and how it has helped you. Did you practice mindfulness today? Tell us how and what it felt like!