What is Mindfulness?

“The awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness stems from Buddhist meditation practices, but it is a little different. In meditation, we focus on our breathing as a way of clearing the mind and being free from other thoughts. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. Focusing on breathing can be a way to do that, but mindfulness isn’t about clearing the mind. Thoughts and feelings that arise are okay, as long as they are met without judgment and we aren’t letting our minds wander too much. Mindfulness can also be practiced walking, where one focuses on the body’s movement, step by step. Or while eating, focusing on the texture and taste of food. The main goal is to focus on and be in the present moment as much as possible.

mindfuleness-diagram

Image: artslant.com

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness. In today’s world, a huge benefit of being mindful is to relieve stress. Stress not only causes anxiety, but can cause many physical problems in our bodies, too. Jon Kabat-Zinn created the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in 1979 and it has become widely used. MBSR has been used to help treat many medical problems from anxiety to gastrointestinal problems.

As we mentioned before, there are many ways to practice mindfulness, but a few key things you need to do are:

  • Set aside some time. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, but make sure you have some uninterrupted time to practice.
  • Observe the present moment. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and aware of our thoughts, feelings, surroundings, etc. So, allow yourself to be fully in the moment.
  • Let judgments pass. The other part of being mindful is being nonjudgmental. Let any judgments that may arise pass.
  • Return to the present moment. It is very easy for our minds to wander. If you notice your mind wandering during mindfulness practice, calmly bring yourself back to the present moment.
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