“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is a diverse set of practices that can increase calmness and clarity in life.
Many people find some benefits from mindfulness. It has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in many studies. It may benefit productivity - In Tim Ferris' book Tools for Titans, 80% of highly successful people he interviewed practiced some form of mindfulness.
There are many different ways to become mindful. Often, it involves noticing things in the present moment instead of being caught living in the past or future. It also can involve acknowledging and accepting the wandering thoughts of the mind.
Mindfulness is a trainable ability that can be practiced and honed. It has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and substance use. There are many mindfulness courses and programs.
- Mindfulness meditation
- Mindfulness in your everyday tasks
Meditation can sound scary or boring, but many people find it accessible and useful. Mindfulness meditation's goal is to relax the body and increase awareness of the mind. Here is a simple meditation from Mindful.org:
A Simple Meditation Practice
- Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
- Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
- Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
- Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
- Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
- Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
Mindfulness in Everyday Tasks : 5 Senses
This is one specific way you can be mindful during everyday tasks.
- Pick a task you do everyday eg: walking to work.
- Today, find a time to engage your 5 senses during this task.
- Vision: look around and notice something you have never noticed before - carefully look at every part of the object
- Hearing: spend 1 minute listening to all the sounds around you, how many different sounds can you hear?
- Touch: feel an object that you pass, remark to yourself about its texture and quality
- Smell: notice any odours in your environment
- Taste: if you're eating, take 1 minute to pay close attention to the taste of a food
If you are ever seeking more awareness and grounding, you can become mindful of your 5 senses.
- A Body Scan is a specific meditation to be mindful of your body and focus your mind. Here is a guided body scan from UCLA.
- Want more exercises? More Mindfulness exercises at Pocket Mindfulness
Overall, Mindfulness is a broad topic which can bring benefits through non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. It can bring calmness and clarity.
If it works for you, try to hone this mindset.