Mindfulness is a simple skill that has become very popular in the last few years. Only a few years ago most people were not familiar with mindfulness, today it’s something we hear quite often in a variety of different settings.
It’s good that more people are aware of it because mindfulness is a great tool that can be used to improve your concentration, increase your awareness and help you find happiness. On the opposite side, becoming popular can have some not so good effects because it has been confused in many instances and a lot of people don’t really understand what it means.
With that being understood, let’s take a look at what mindfulness is and what it is not– as well as how you can begin applying it to your life.
Mindfulness quite often is described as a type or style of meditation. The reality is mindfulness meditation is meditation that involves paying attention to the thoughts in your own mind and how they could be having an effect on you. It’s important to point out that the goal of some forms of meditation, like transcendental meditation, is to empty your mind completely, the goal of mindfulness is to simply detach yourself from your thoughts and become a non-judgmental observer. By doing this, you can keep them from impacting you in the same old way. In doing this you can also gain a better understanding of your own thoughts.
Some describe this as ‘watching the thoughts go past like clouds’. The idea is not to follow your thoughts or judge them as good, bad or something else, but simply to acknowledge them and later reflect on what affect they may have on your happiness.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Learning and practicing mindfulness empowers us to take a few minutes during our day to separate ourselves from our thoughts, calm our mind and relax to reduce our stress level.
It’s more than meditation. Being mindful also means becoming more aware of our own thoughts as we go through our day. Some will say you should be mindful of your physical body, or mindful of your environment. Really, the goal of mindfulness is to be present in the moment without judging. Simply experience the moment.
The next time you go for a walk with friends or family, or the next time you do some other activity you should be enjoying, simply be aware and see if you’re really focused on the activity or event and actively being engaged in it, or is your mind somewhere else? Are you thinking about work? Stressing over other events?
Mindfulness helps teach us to become more aware of our thoughts, that way we can decide to not let them affect us. When we do that we can then make the conscious effort to focus on the present and to choose to be happy.
Mindfulness is not mystical or some religious practice. It is not a fix-all therapy technique, it’s a tool, actually it’s a state of mind. By practicing mindfulness you can become more in-tune with how you think about things and that is the beginning of positive change in your life.
I can help you, I’m a Certified Mindfulness Meditation Instructor. To learn how to apply mindfulness in your life, give me a call at 618-589-4848.