What is Mindfulness?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat Zinn). Before I further delve into the concept of mindfulness, I’d like to reflect on my own journey through the quest of conquering a solid practice of mindfulness meditation. Indeed, I have, through the years, sought to establish a solid practice of mindfulness meditation. However, more often than not, to my dismay, it seems like I take one step forward and two backward. I’d feel like I had perfect ‘enlightenment’ one day just to find myself completely unfocused the next. I doubted my ability to ever be ‘good’ at this practice and often was down on myself for not staying focused throughout practice. It was not until I realized that the word ‘non-judgment’ was the core of the practice that I had a breakthrough and started ripping benefits from my daily practice. In his book, Wherever You Go There You are, Jon Kabat Zinn says, speaking of Mindfulness “a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck, back into touch with our own wisdom and validity. It is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of our own lives, including our relationships within the family, our relationship to work and to the larger world and planet, and most fundamentally, our relationship with our self as a person.” (Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever You There you are)
“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment there is infinite possibility.”
What does it mean to be mindful?
For starter we should stop worrying about the mastery of Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness is not something we go out there to get, it is within all of us. The moment we adopt an attitude of non-judgment, not expecting people, situations and things to be as we wish they were but rather seeing them as they are, we open ourselves to the great gift of mindfulness. The moment we learn to be grateful to all things, good or bad, the noise in our head finds salvation and we start hearing our own breath. Indeed, Mindfulness meditation has grown quite popular in the western world in recent years and rightfully so, “Meditation helps us wake up from the sleep of automaticity and unconsciousness, thereby making it possible for us to live our lives with access to the full spectrum of our conscious and unconscious possibilities.” (Jon Kabat Zinn)
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Other than the obvious benefit of putting a break on our racing thoughts, it has been scientifically proven that the practice of mindfulness may,
1. Decrease cognitive decline
2. Prevent depression
3. Improve immune function
4. Help reduce pain
5. Promote happiness and contentment
Making Mindfulness daily habit?
Mindfulness scripts can be found online, and apps can be downloaded through the Appstore. I have personally used Apps like Calm and Headspace and find them both quite suitable. My daily practice consists of a ten-minutes guided meditation. I’ve also found Andrew Weil’s breathing techniques great. These can be found here, (https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/)
In addition to these techniques it is important to note that Mindfulness can be informal, which involves, “doing your daily routines a little differently to become more mindful. It’s like taking the stairs instead of the elevator to become more physically fit. This can begin as soon as you awaken. You can take a few moments to notice your breath, how your body feels lying in the bed, the appearance of the room, the temperature of the air and the sounds around you.” (R. Seigel, the mindful solution)
For me, a daily mindfulness practice reminds me of the impermanent nature of life, neither profound sadness nor great happiness last forever, everything must end. This is what brings balance to life.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. Wherever You Go There You are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.
Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD. The mindful solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.
Andrew Weil. Three Breathing Exercises and Techniques. Retrieved from https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/
Resources Breathing Exercises