What is Mindfulness?
Have you ever found yourself unable to shake the past? Or maybe you’re anxious about the future, and you can’t focus your attention elsewhere. In both regards, practicing mindfulness will bring you back to your center and to the current moment. Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present: where you are, what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling. This technique can free you from the negativity stemming from your past, as well as relieve you from that anxiety about what’s to come.
You can start practicing mindfulness as soon as you wake up in the morning and all throughout the rest of your day. Give it a try: Focus on the warmth of the water as you step into your morning shower; inhale the cleansing steam and the sweet smells of soap. At breakfast, take your time eating and savor each bite. And instead of hurrying to work, slow down to take in and connect with all that is around you: perhaps the cascading hills or buildings to your left; the birds flying overhead; and the other people on their morning commute. Make it a conscientious effort throughout your day to slow down, observe, and tune into the present.
Quick Facts about Mindfulness
- Mediation is rooted in open attention to the present moment.
- The practice of mindfulness is simple, not complicated: we all have the innate ability to be mindful and reap the benefits.
- It can be practiced anywhere and in any position: in the car, at work, during yoga; while laying down, sitting, or moving.
- Mindfulness brings awareness and calmness to everything that we do.
- It is scientifically-proven to reduce stress and make for happier, healthier individuals.
- Mindfulness allows us to focus our minds where it really matters: the present.
- It assists us in moving on from the past and foregoing worries about the future.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Remember: mindfulness is all about focusing on the present, not what lies behind or ahead. However, engaging in this practice does indeed yield some amazing benefits to look forward to. Practicing mindfulness has proven to…
- Reduce stress
- Decrease symptoms of depression
- Boost self-esteem
- Enhance performance
- Increase awareness
- Improve overall health
- Facilitate recovery
- Improve patience
- Narrow focus
- Enhance self-compassion
- Improve relationship satisfaction
Mindfulness in Practice
Tina Bakardzhieva knows everything there is to know about mindfulness, as she is a level two mindfulness-based interventions teacher, as well as a hypnotherapist and a psychotherapist. Still, the sessions with her clients never fail to offer her, “new and unexpected insights and understanding,” she says. And she’s here to tell us about one particular enlightening journey.
“Early in my training, I met a mother and her daughter, seven years old… the woman was obviously depressed. Three years later, the same woman contacted me and booked a consultation with me. She came together with her daughter, but this time the client was the young girl. We had a conversation about the time we met before and I reminded her about that little girl who meticulously copied her mother’s every move, reaching for tissues, blowing her nose, dabbing her eyes—a tiny mirror image of her mother’s pain. Prior to then, I’d always thought of identification—the unconscious process through which we become like those we love in order to feel close to them—as little more than an abstract theory. But here was a young girl becoming her depressed mother, just a few feet away from me.”
“A few sessions later, the woman rang me and said, ‘The magic happened—my daughter had an a-ha moment yesterday. She realized that this wasn’t about her; it was my issue.’ Prior to that moment, she believed that her thoughts were her thoughts and there wasn’t much you could do about it. ‘Our conversation has changed my thinking as well,’ said the mother. ‘I could choose to continue to go over my list of grievances, which does nothing but make me more and more unhappy. Or, I could choose not to feed those grievances and, instead, turn my attention to this very moment. I’d never realized that we have the ability to choose where to place our attention and, by doing so, relieve our suffering and bring more joy into our lives.’”
Once Tina’s former client learned how to focus her thoughts on the present and move them away from negativity, she found the happiness she was seeking. Mindfulness was the turning point in her life… and it can be yours too! You don’t have to take any extreme measures to start being mindful. You can simply begin to incorporate it into each day. And if you find that you like it and reap those benefits we talked about earlier, you might even consider making it a lifestyle.