Mindfulness can be described as the opposite of being on autopilot. By practicing mindfulness, we can get more knowledge about ourselves, be better able to regulate our emotions, and enhance our quality of life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of being that means living in greater awareness of oneself and what is going on around one right now. Often, we are not fully present in the moment. Our thoughts pull us away from the here and now to the past or to the future. It can have to do with both worries and ruminations or day dreams and planning. With mindfulness, we can train our ability to observe the stream of thoughts, to let go of thoughts, and consciously direct our attention.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. Here in the West, we have stripped away the religious characteristics and use mindfulness both to achieve greater well-being and treatment of, for example, stress and depression.
What is mindfulness good for?
Some of mindfulness is about understanding how we react and why. By becoming aware of our mental functioning, we can have more freedom to choose how we act in different situations.
The purpose of mindfulness is not relaxation or putting an end to specific thoughts. However, training in mindfulness, for many, contributes to greater peace and better well-being.
There is a lot of research on mindfulness. Research shows, among other things, that mindfulness has many positive effects when it comes to, for example, stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. Research also shows that when we practice mindfulness, we feel greater peace and well-being.
Becoming consciously present is nothing we learn in a few weeks, although we soon may experience changes via regular training. When we practice, we direct our attention to bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings. We are trying to understand how things are right now - with curiosity and without judging or evaluating.
You can increase your ability to practice mindfulness in different ways. A simple breakdown means distinguishing between formal and informal training in mindfulness.
In formal training, you dedicate time for your mindfulness practice. This may mean, for example, sitting quietly and paying attention to your breathing or lying down and feeling your way through your body (body scan). You can also try to become aware of the body in motion through, for example, mindful yoga or tai chi.
We can also train being consciously present in our everyday lives. This means that we practice doing one thing at a time and we focus on what we do or experience, just simply being what we are. You can practice mindfulness in most things you do in your everyday life; for example, when you cook, eat, shower, talk to someone, or listen to music. This constitutes informal training.
In order to be able to notice a change through this training, it is advantageous initially to allocate specific time each day. A little time is better than no time at all. It is also beneficial to train and practice mindfulness in everyday life. One way to get started is to take a course in mindfulness. You can also enjoy audio files in the link below.
Free guided mindful meditations in English and Spanish.