What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental activity incorporating attention and concentration on a chosen object of focus. Most commonly people focus their attention on the breath, however, you can attend to numerous other objects in the practise of mindfulness.
Defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
Simply, mindfulness is noticing what is happening right now – breathing, sensations, thoughts and feelings.
Why practise Mindfulness?
Globally, mindfulness, among other effects, has been used for stress reduction, pain management, and the development of greater self-awareness.
While you are solely focused on your chosen subject, there is little attention left for other distractions (worries, fears, stresses). Thus, people can find it freeing to not be caught up with the worries of their lives in that moment.
In terms of relaxation, practising mindfulness lowers heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with a number of physical and mental benefits.
Regular practise of mindfulness also promotes greater productivity, improved decision making, and greater self-control.
Ways Mindfulness is practised:
Physical relaxation techniques
What are the Challenges?
Learning to practise mindfulness takes time, and practise. With mindfulness you are training your brain, attention and concentration, so it important to go easy on yourself. The ‘monkey mind’ has been bouncing around for as long as you have been alive, so it will take time to modify that habit.
It is completely normal for your mind to wander, and thoughts to be jumping in and out every second. We have found in past workshops that it takes some time for everything to settle at the start of each practise.
The goal is not to completely empty your mind, but to focus attention to your object, be aware of the distractions, thoughts and sensations, as they come, and return you focus back to your object.
Attention is like a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets.
There are many methods for practising mindfulness, and there is no one strategy for everyone – sitting meditation, walking etc. Try something different as you learn what is a good fit for you.