Mindfulness is a word we often hear but exactly is it? There are over 20 definitions of what it means to be mindful. Merriam-Webster Dictionary states:
“The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
To be mindful means to be present and aware. It’s when we can truly focus and direct our attention to our body, breath, the beauty all around us and the other person in the room.
When we practice mindfulness, we are guiding our minds to be in the moment. We are shifting from a state of autopilot into a state of awareness. The more you are able to focus your attention and be present, the greater level of happiness you will feel. When you live more consciously, you live more in alignment with your true self.
50% of the time our minds are on autopilot. Our attention is being swept up by a never ending (and not always positive) current of thought processes. The mind habitually wanders away from the present moment. It gets preoccupied us with thinking about the past or projecting into the future.
This often causes us to feel stressed, anxious, depressed and reactive. Research has shown that the more our minds wander, the more unhappy we become.
But when we’re mindful we ‘wake up’ and step out of that current, placing attention where we choose. It’s about accepting about where you are versus try to change where you were. Living more consciously, means living more happily.
When you practice being mindful, it’s almost as though you have a drone’s view of life. It allows you to have a zoomed out perspective, versus being so zoomed in.
We’re more likely to pay attention without the need to judge or label. We become watchers and observers, not getting swept away in emotions. This gives a new sense of freedom and choice to life.
Still not convinced a mindfulness practice is for you.
Here are 5 proven ways that mindfulness can benefit you:
- Get better sleep. Improve your sleep quality and overall quality of life. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can improve insomnia symptoms, fatigue, as well as inflammatory signalling.
- Lower your stress level. We live in a fast paced, high-stress world. A reviewof 47 clinical trials found that mindfulness meditation programs show “small improvements in stress/distress and the mental health component of health-related quality of life.”
- Improve attention. Researchers found that brief meditation training (four days) can lead to enhanced ability to sustain attention.Other improvements from brief meditation training included working memory, executive functioning, visuo-spatial processing, reductions in anxiety and fatigue, and increased mindfulness.
- Remove negative thoughts and feelings. Researchers have shown, some 95% of our thoughts are repetitive, and 80% negative. Meditation helps clear your mind of negative thoughts, shifting your focus to the present moment.
- Reduce anxiety. Researchers have found that even a single session of mindfulness meditation can result in reduced anxiety. For the study, researchers focused on the effect of a single session of mindfulness meditation on participants with high levels of anxiety but normal blood pressure. They found measurable improvements in anxiety following the single mindfulness meditation session and further anxiety reduction one week later.
Do you have a mindfulness practice? Let us know below.