Practicing mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to things as they are. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is the energy that helps us acknowledge the conditions of happiness that are already existing in our lives. We don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It is present in every moment of our daily lives. Mindfulness is when we are truly there, mind and body together. We breathe in and out mindfully, and we bring our mind back to our body. When our mind is there with our body, we become settled in the present moment. Then we are able to identify the many aspects of happiness that are in us and around us, and happiness just comes naturally.
“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu
Practicing mindfulness enable us to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts; they don’t necessarily represent reality. We can observe them rather than being dependent on them. It helps us to take in the richness of the moment instead of going through life with half of our attention on the past or future or our own mental gabble. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we become enlightened to be more intentional in choosing priorities and actions that fit our life mission.
“Refuge to the man is the mind, refuge to the mind is mindfulness” – Buddha
In this busy, hyper and connected world, we spend so much of our days lost in thought, rushing around from one activity to another, and often trying to do several different things at the same time. We often fail to notice the beauty of life, lose our connection with the present moment. And we all too often miss out on what we are doing, how we are feeling and what our bodies are telling us. We also become vulnerable to anxiety, stress, depression and reactivity. Research shows, in fact, that the more our minds wander, the less happy we become.
With mindfulness, we have the chance to really slow down and appreciate everyday activities with new eyes, new senses. By learning and practicing mindfulness and deep meditation we gain the power of familiarizing ourselves with our thoughts and our patterns, and we can shift our thoughts away from our usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. In other words, the more mindful you are the happier you are.
In order to get the best results by practicing mindfulness and deep meditation, our mind has to be relaxed and free from all worries about past and future. We can learn relaxation techniques to help us managing stress and teaching us how to quiet our mind.
One simple way to start practicing mindfulness, is to concentrate on our breathing without trying to change it. We just focus on our breath coming into and leaving our body. As we practice this, our mind might wander, but we can gently, without any judgement bring our focus back on our breathing again. As we begin to feel success with this task, we may wish to extend our focus to sensations we feel in our body, without judgment or trying to change these sensations. And then we can apply this practice to sounds that we hear in our environment. There are many guided mindfulness meditations online that can assist us in learning and practicing, and soon, we will experience the benefits of mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life” – Marcus Aurelius
In addition to formal meditation, we can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing our attention on our moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. Whether we are doing the dishes, flossing our teeth, waiting at the traffic lights or going for our morning walk, we may slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of our senses. Any routine activity can be made into a mindfulness practice when we bring our full attention to it.
Mindfulness improves physical health:
- Help relieve stress
- Treat heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce chronic pain
- Improve sleep
- Alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health:
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Couples’ conflicts
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Mindfulness can literally transform our entire world from the inside out. It may help us discover the feelings of fulfilment, peace and wholeness which have been within us all along. To find fulfilment and meaning in life, we need to learn how to really experience the moment and then go deeper into ourselves, and ask questions like “What is important to us, what makes us fulfilled and what do we want to do in our life?”. We need to take time away from our busy lives and allow ourselves to reflect, experience and make sense of our life.
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”– Thich Nhat Hanh