Many people seem unclear about what Mindfulness Is and Is Not. The short answer is that Mindfulness is about getting fully in the present moment and being aware. Mindfulness is not about focusing harder. Jon Kabat Zinn has a great definition for Mindfulness, (Professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School)
What does that mean “without judgment?” You could actually be in the present moment but judging it; for example: “I hate this meeting, I have no time for this, I don’t like this moment.” Instead of a bracing against what is, there is a decision to accept what is. It is being open regardless of whether the present moment experiences are good or bad; also not judging yourself in the moment. Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment: your environment, your emotions, sensations, thoughts, or lack thereof. … without judgment of those things.
Mindfulness in NOT something extra. It’s not something extra you have to do in your day. Instead it’s an intentional mindset to go through your day more mindfully.
Mindfulness is Not:
An Escape or spacing out; mindfulness is instead tuning in and connecting to the present moment. It’s about being where we are right now, fully.
An add-on to your day. Mindfulness is Not another thing you have to do; instead, it’s a mindset to integrate into your existing daily activities.
A religion, although many traditions do teach ways to cultivate mindfulness.
Meditation; although there is a form of meditation called “Mindfulness Meditation.”
Complicated…so don’t make it complicated, just ““pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.
Practical Examples of Mindfulness:
- Be fully present while showering; notice the feeling of the water on your skin and other sensations it brings.
- Mindfully chopping vegetables; notice the colors and textures and the actual chopping motion.
- Mindful walking; notice the feel on your steps on the ground, the sounds of the birds, the color of the flowers.
If you are fully in the present moment, you cannot be somewhere else in your mind. And the mind, left to its own devices, will tend to sweep us off to future worries or concerns from the past. Being in either of these two “places” can generate feelings of anxiety and depression.
The Benefits of living Mindfully:
- Mental health benefits; decreased anxiety, lessening of depression
- Ability to create a pause or gap from which to choose responses vs simply reacting
- Improved relationships, due to ability to be present and fully listen and come from compassion
- Physical health benefits; lowers blood pressure, decreased risk of many illnesses
- Reduced chance of burn out, due to improved ability to manage stress
- Better memory and ability to concentrate
Try these Apps I recommend to practice and build your ability to be Mindfulness:
- Calm https://www.calm.com/
- Andrew Johnson Apps https://www.withandrewjohnson.com/
- Insight Timer https://insighttimer.com/
If you are interested in reading more about Mindfulness read more from these top experts in the field:
- Jon Kabat-Zinn https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/
- Daniel Goleman
- Sharon Salzberg Ted Talkhttps://youtu.be/-jn1ZkwOZ-g
- Daniel J Siegelhttp://m.drdansiegel.com