Ashish

With the growing interest in self-help, self-care, and self-growth, it isn’t surprising that mindfulness is at the front and center of these subjects.

We live in a fast-paced world. There isn’t a lot of downtime to sit and reflect on our feelings, thoughts, and overall wellness. We get easily caught up in what we have to do and rarely let ourselves focus on what we should do.

But, this fast-paced lifestyle leads to anxiety, stress, and an overall sense of unhappiness or un-fulfillment. There are more depressed, anxious, and generally burnt-out people walking the streets now than ever before.

There is a reason these “self” fields focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness is important because it makes us slow down and live in the moment. It not only helps us achieve mental wellness, but it helps heal our physical bodies as well.

But what qualifies as mindfulness? And, how do we learn to practice it?

To really understand what mindfulness is, we have to look at its history.

History of Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present. It is being fully involved with whatever is happening in the current moment in both your surroundings and thoughts. There is no thinking of the past or thinking of what you will be doing an hour from now. To be mindful is to be focused entirely on the here and now. 

The concept of mindfulness can be traced back 2,500 years. It has been used to relieve suffering and overall well-being since the time of Buddha. It began as a means to achieve the state of nirvana (a state of enlightenment where there is complete peace and happiness).

It is a practice that was developed in the East and has been used by Hindus, Buddhists, yogis, and other religious or spiritual organizations. Brought to the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn, it is now used to alter our relationship with our emotions, pain, anxiety, and stress. Its focus is to alleviate our pain and suffering. By learning to control our thoughts and staying completely present, we can focus on the current moment’s experience and let everything else go.

Being able to be completely present can be done when you can control your thoughts.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Research into the area of mindfulness has shown it helps with an array of mental health and physical issues. With science-backed studies in their favor, researchers have found mindfulness helps with eating disorders, substance abuse issues, and even chronic pain. (Source)

Therapists who use mindfulness interventions also find it to be a beneficial therapy for helping those with depression, chronic anxiety, and even interpersonal communication issues.

By changing how we deal with our thoughts and emotionswe become the ones who are in charge of our minds. Being in charge not only feels good, but it is beneficial to our overall well-being in the long run.

Therapists who use mindfulness interventions also find it to be a beneficial therapy for helping those with depression, chronic anxiety, and even interpersonal communication issues.

By changing how we deal with our thoughts and emotionswe become the ones who are in charge of our minds. Being in charge not only feels good, but it is beneficial to our overall well-being in the long run.

The benefits of mindfulness have also been found to help with:

  • An overall reduction in stress levels

Life is stressful. There is no way around that. But, mindfulness can help. If you are feeling stressed by your job, your relationship, or even your daily activities, having a mindfulness practice can help lower your stress levels, minimizing the effects of stress on both your mind and body.

  • Improvement in mood

When you feel depressed, overwhelmed, or (once again) stressed out, mindfulness can help you to disengage from the negative thoughts holding you back. When you focus your attention on the present moment, all your problems melt away. Your attention is no longer on the past or the future, it is only focused on the right here, right now.

Mindfulness helps minimizing stress and disengaging from negative thoughts.

  • Improvement in attention

The more you practice meditation and mindfulness, the more you can concentrate for extended periods. You are literally strengthening your brain and allowing it to perform better as a result.

This improvement in attention doesn’t just extend to your ability to practice mindfulness. It extends to paying attention at work, listening to your partner or friend’s problems, or even helping you to delve deeper into an excellent book.

  • Reduction in emotional reactivity

The more capable you are of separating yourself from your feelings or examining them without any judgment, the better able you are to not react negatively. An example is when you feel anger. Anger is an immediate or automatic response to the situation that has caused it. You can lash out without even thinking about it.

With mindfulness, you become aware of the feeling before you react to it. Mindfulness gives you a chance to step back and think. This can be a huge benefit, especially for those who are quick to respond with anger or frustration when an unpleasant situation arises.

  • Improvements in physical health

Mindfulness not only lowers stress levels, but it can help combat heart disease, lower your overall blood pressure, help you deal with chronic pain, and make you have a better night’s sleep. As your mind becomes calm, your body reaps the benefits.

The mind and body are so connected to one another, that as one is healed, so is the other.

If you want to learn more about why mindfulness is important, check these comments on the benefits of mindfulness.

Mindfulness strengthens your brain, reduces emotional reactivity, & improves your health.

Mindfulness as a Technique and Practice

 

So when should you use mindfulness? 

 

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t need to take a lot of time. It can be something you learn to use in the moment, or it can be a meditative practice you set aside time for each day. It is literally something you can use anytime and anywhere. 

 

The thing to remember with mindfulness is, it is essential in making you feel better.

 

And, the more you use mindfulness, the quicker it will work, and the more beneficial its results will be.

 

Starting a daily practice of a few minutes is a great way to begin the mindfulness journey. 

All forms of mindfulness practice and techniques share some common elements:

  • Focusing on the present moment – being in the here and now and not worrying about the past or future.
  • Being open to experience – being open to all of your thoughts and emotions.
  • Accepting things as they are – Accepting your thoughts and emotions without judgment.
  • Letting go – Letting all negative thoughts and emotions go.

You can pair these concepts with simple techniques such as focusing on your breathing, focusing on a mantra or positive image, or even using guided meditation. Each method can be useful in your mindfulness practice. It is really up to you to find the right technique and focus that works the best for you.

You can literally practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere.

If you are thinking about using mindfulness as a meditative practice, learning about mindfulness meditation is the basis of Matthew Sockolov’s book, Practicing mindfulness: 75 Essential Meditations to Reduce Stress, Improve Mental Health, and Find Peace in the Everyday. His book covers why these specific 75 meditations are useful and provide you with tools that will help you on your journey to find peace and overall wellness.

Meditation may not be your thing, and that’s okay. As long as you are fully engaged in the present moment, you are doing mindfulness right! If you are looking for a different mindfulness technique, journaling can be a great alternative to meditation.

Author, Barrie Davenport, created an excellent mindfulness journal that will help you achieve living in the momentThe Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment. This journal has 365 days of writing prompts, and it has 52 weekly mindfulness topics, allowing you to really delve into a new theme each week.

Perhaps the most popular form of mindfulness in our society is the practice of yoga. Yoga teaches you to focus on every movement, every breath. There is no time to let your mind wander as you are focusing on the positioning of your Warrior II or your deep breathing as you hold a challenging position. Yoga has taken the West by storm, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

But, whether it is meditation, journaling, yoga, or taking a few moments to just focus on your breathing, mindfulness, in whatever form, can help you improve your daily life.

Mindfulness, in whatever form, can help you improve your daily life.

In Summation

The practice of mindfulness is highly beneficial to our overall well-being. If you are someone who struggles with stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, or a host of other mental and physical ailments, mindfulness can help you change your life. It is a simple technique or practice, but it can make all the difference.

In this article, we have covered:

  • The history of mindfulness
  • The benefits of mindfulness
  • Mindfulness as a technique and practice

Overall, developing a system that works for you is essential. But, with the many different methods out there, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a way that works best for you and your lifestyle. Even for those who barely have a minute to spare, a one minute mindfulness session can help you through the day.

So, take a chance and join a yoga class or check out one of the recommended books to help you learn a little more about what mindfulness is and how you can use it to enhance your mental and physical well-being.

Ashish

A freelance writer, a poet and an avid reader. He’s a passionate wordsmith who believes in writing content which is simple, beautiful and informative. He’s a practised communicator coached by British Academy.
Apart from being a playful scribbler, he’s a hardcore music fan and loves exploring space and science. He is also a spiritual soul and fitness enthusiast. Yoga, meditation and workout are some of his favourite health activities.