By Laurie | May 4th, 2017
Mindfulness is often thought of as a New Age concept, but the truth is, mindfulness has existed for thousands of years as part of the Buddhist tradition of sati, and may perhaps be even older than that.
It sounds like a complicated process, but mindfulness really just involves living in the moment, being fully aware of your internal state and the state of things around you. Upon developing mindfulness, you will feel more focused, more alert, and ordinarily more calm as well.
As you’re aware of what is going on with yourself and everything around you, you can experience life fully from moment to moment rather than simply reacting to it, and that increases your confidence too.
With the right coaching, anyone can develop mindfulness. Those who do will enjoy many benefits, such as:
In addition to these characteristics, those who live out their lives while making a conscious effort toward mindfulness also tend to develop several positive habits.
Mindfulness practice has been found to boost creative thinking. Cultivating qualities such as focus, patience, and calm can help you have better mental clarity, which helps make problem solving and decision making easier.
At the same time, doing creative work can be a pathway to being more mindful and aware. If you want to become more mindful but find silent meditation practice difficult, try engaging in your favourite creative practice, whether it’s cooking, drawing, or colouring in, and see how your thoughts quiet down as you focus on making.
Mindful people are able to notice a feeling and be curious about it instead of becoming it. Gaining control over your own mind in this way is an empowering experience. To reach this state of mindfulness, you’ll need to be observant of the thoughts and emotions arising within you, without judging them or reacting spontaneously to them. If the thought or emotion is something that could be of benefit to you, then you can direct it towards positive action. For example, if it’s something you believe to be a good idea, write it down. On the other hand, if it is a negative feeling or thought— jealousy, for example— you can simply notice it, and then let it go, rather than attaching yourself to it or admonishing yourself for it.
The advice most people will give you when you’re experiencing problems is to forget about your troubles or try to ignore them. Mindfulness requires you to do the exact opposite. Running away from your problems is rarely a good long-term solution, so simply trying not to think about what is troubling you won’t really help, neither does avoiding conflict. The more you try to not think about something, the more you will end up thinking about it. Mindful people notice the things which bother them, observing their reaction to it, and then make a decision about their future response.
Over 2500 years ago, Buddha was teaching the belief that our thoughts follow what scientists today would call a ternary digital pattern. Thoughts arise, they exist, and then they fall away or cease to exist. Everything in the universe follows this same pattern. Nothing is permanent, and therefore we should accept everything — good and bad — and not react to negative situations in ways that might make it worse. Understanding that the unwanted situation is temporary should allow you to experience less stress and worry. In Western philosophy, the same principle is summed up by the adage: “This too shall pass.”
Many people think of meditation as elusive and difficult. Really, all that meditation requires is to focus your mind on just one thing (or nothing at all, if you can manage that). You probably already meditate several times per day without even realising it. Whenever you truly give all your attention to anything, you are meditating. Practicing meditation can mean doing something you usually do, but with intention.
While you can be mindful without meditating, all the research and experts tell us that meditation is the best way to become more mindful. Regular practice can help to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost wellbeing. To get started (or keep on track), try a free guided meditation app like Smiling Mind.
To develop a truly healthy mind, you should allow your body to be in the best health you can provide. This includes taking care of your nutritional needs, getting enough exercise, and taking time out for relaxation and recovery. When your body has all its needs met, you will feel better, and this makes you more open to developing mindfulness without the distractions of bodily discomfort.
More than any other factor, your intention is what counts. If you make the conscious decision to live mindfully, you will notice that you automatically become mindful. It becomes an ingrained habit.
Decide that you’re going to pay attention, and not allow yourself to be distracted by the past (it has already happened, and while you can learn from past mistakes, you can’t undo them, so why worry about them) or the future (these are problems that are yet to arise, so worrying about them won’t help). Instead, simply focus on what is happening in the present moment – whether that’s brushing your teeth, walking, or washing the dishes – and you’ll find a greater sense of calm throughout your life.