The concept of ‘mindfulness’ has generated some buzz and attention in recent years, in both mainstream culture and media. Concepts such as mindful moments, or mindful eating have become much more common. So what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the basic ability to become fully present and aware in a moment (1). People often have the idea that the concept of mindfulness can only be achieved when sitting crossed legged on a yoga mat,
attempting to ‘meditate.’ To become completely free of thoughts. This idea can be misleading and can often deter individuals from experiencing or being open to the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness can be a simple practice incorporated into daily living, by just simply
becoming aware and present. Mindfulness is the practice of tuning in.
Why would you want to practice mindfulness and what are the benefits?
We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by distractions in our environment. The practice of mindfulness can offer a break, allowing individuals to drop everything that is going on externally. To become present and aware in a moment.
One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is to simply connect to the breath, conscious breathing. Breathing in and breathing out. Becoming completely aware in a moment to the simple sensation of your breath. This is something that is accessible to anyone, anywhere, in any given moment. Take a moment now to just simply notice your breath. Take a deep breath. Then notice how you feel.
Mindfulness offers many benefits including stress reduction, the release of anxiety, improved sleep patterns, lower blood pressure, and enhanced focus for your mind. There is emerging evidence that suggests mindfulness supports emotional regulation regions in the brain (2). This helps to decrease ruminating thought patterns, and enhances cognition, including working memory and ability to sustain attention during performance tasks (2). Research also supports that mindfulness helps to decrease reactivity (2). Therefore, you become better equipped to respond in situations thoughtfully, and not reactively.
When you are able to bring your attention to directly what you are experiencing, tuning into your senses, state of mind (noticing your thoughts), and connecting to your breath, you are practicing mindfulness.
(1) Foundation for Mindful Society (2020). https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/
(2) Psychotherapy Theory Research Practice (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of Psychotherapy-Related Research. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51189995_What_Are_the_Benefits_of_Mindfulness_A_Practice_Review_of_Psychotherapy-Related_Research