Mindfulness is a way to become more aware of the present moment, reduce stress, become calm and relaxed, and increase focus and concentration.
Its practice is similar to meditation exercise. There are many forms of meditation, and mindfulness is one of them.
Mindful practices help you develop your concentration skills and teach you to disregard distractions.
Mindfulness also helps you become fully present. This means that you are fully focused on the present, on the here and now.
Mindfulness and meditation are no different. They both use similar methods. They reduce stress and help you live in the present moment.
Meditation practice, guided meditations, and mindfulness exercises, all improve your focus and attention span, reduce strain and tension, and expand the consciousness.
How to Define Mindfulness?
Wikipedia defines mindfulness as follows:
“Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention in the present moment without judgment. A skill one develops through meditation or other training.
“Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Buddhist traditions, and based on Zen, Vipassana, and Tibetan meditation techniques.”
Merriam Webster Dictionary says:
“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.”
Cambridge Dictionary defines it as follows:
“The practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm.”
According to the American Psychological Association (APA.org, 2012), mindfulness is:
“A moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn about Mindfulness
Jon Kabat-Zinn, American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, defines mindfulness in the following words:
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Jon Kabat-Jon, also said:
“We all take ourselves too seriously because we believe that there’s someone to take seriously. That ‘me’. We become the star of our own movie.
“The story of ‘me’, starring, of course, me! And everyone else becomes a bit player in our movie. And then we forget that it’s a fabrication.
“It’s a construction. And that it’s not a movie and that there’s no ‘you’ that you can actually find if you were to peel back.”
The Benefits of Mindfulness
What are the benefits of mindfulness and what is the effect of mindfulness?
Other important benefits are experiencing less stress, creating an inner space of calmness and peace, and becoming a more patient and tolerant person.
You can cultivate mindfulness when sitting alone on your chair and paying attention to your bodily sensations, and you can also practice mindfulness while walking, traveling, and even while working.
All you have to do is focus on the present moment, on what you are doing, or on your body sensations.
Simple Exercise to Cultivate Mindfulness
Here is a simple exercise to getting started to cultivate mindfulness.
1.The first step is to find a quiet place, where you can sit down quietly. You can sit on a chair or on the floor, whatever you find more convenient.
2.Try to relax your body as much as you can.
3.Now, take a few deep slow breaths.
4. Close your eyes.
5. Start making body scans with your awareness. What does this mean? Starting from your head, move your attention slowly from one part of your body to the other, while focusing on each part.
Strive to be aware of each part of your body, wherever you focus your attention. Feel if it is tense or relaxed, and pay attention to the sensations you feel.
Do not try to analyze the sensations, just be aware of them in a neutral manner, making a mental note of them.
6. Move your attention slowly, from your head to your face, forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, neck, chest, abdomen, and so on, until you reach the toes of your feet.
7. Whenever your mind wanders, just calmly bring it back to the exercise.
You can start with about a 5 minutes session, and gradually, as you gain experience, lengthen the time to 15 minutes, and even more.
Practicing Mindfulness Is Not Difficult
Practicing mindfulness in itself is not difficult. Actually, you can do it wherever you are. All you need is to be present here, with your full attention. In simple words, focus on what you are doing.
The key is not to do one thing, while thinking of something else. Your attention should be on what you are doing, thinking, or experiencing.
The difficult part is to train the mind to be mindful. As the mind wanders away, you need to bring it back. You need to remember to be mindful, as least part of the time. This is a challenge, if your attention span is short and you are unable to focus your mind.
However, this is not a problem. All you need is to persevere, and keep training your mind. You can change your behavior and mental habits, if you are earnest enough.
Here are a few mindfulness quotes to put you into the mood of this practice, and to discover what some experts say about it.
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”
“Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.”
“Use every distraction as an object of meditation and they cease to be distractions.”
“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.”
“Paradise is not a place; it’s a state of consciousness.”
“Altogether, the idea of meditation is not to create states of ecstasy or absorption, but to experience being.”