You’ve heard the word many times before, but familiarity doesn’t always breed understanding. Mindfulness – what is it?
Why does it matter?
What should you know about it?
It can be a confusing topic, particularly if you’re not well-versed in living in the moment.
Many of us aren’t – we live in the past or the future, but not the here and now.
What It Is
According to Psychology Today, Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
So, mindfulness is a way of looking at yourself, at life, and the world around you that ensures you live in the here and now, that you experience life as it happens.
However, it’s much more than that, as well.
It means acceptance and that you’re actively paying attention to how you feel and what you think.
As mentioned, you must do that without judging whether those thoughts and emotions are “good” or “bad”, which can be a very real challenge.
We’re all conditioned to believe that some thoughts are good and others are bad.
However, the truth is that they simply “are”.
Another good definition of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Massachusetts Medical School’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.
He says that mindfulness, “means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.
From that, we can divine that you’re not paying attention by accident or happenstance.
You’re doing it on purpose.
You’re purposefully taking stock of what you think and feel.
For instance, if you were to walk mindfully, you’d be aware of more than just the mechanics of the process, or the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.
You’d be aware of the muscles in your hips, legs and feet. You’d be aware of the surface on which you walked, with all its irregularities.
You’d be aware of the sounds around you – birdsong, insects, car engines and the like.
Why Does It Matter?
So, why does mindfulness matter so much?
Actually, that’s pretty simple to explain.
It matters because it helps to reduce stress in your life by putting you completely in the present moment.
However, it does much more than help you shrug off your stress load.
It can actually do some very good things for your body. For instance, a new study found that it can actually boost your immune system considerably.
Interestingly, it’s also been proven that mindfulness can increase your ability to feel compassion for other people and even animals and other creatures, while fostering a stronger sense of altruism.
This is important for daily life, but it can play a part in workplace performance, too.
For instance, nurses practicing mindfulness are more compassionate and caring for their patients.
It can help improve memory, cognition and mental focus as well, which plays a role not just in the workplace, but can have a positive effect on people suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start practicing mindfulness.
The incredible benefits can improve your life, and help you enjoy every single second without focusing on the positive or the negative too much.
It’s all about living right now, and not living in the past or worrying about the future.