Mindfulness- A Meaningful Approach to Life

Understanding and Using Mindfulness Daily 

Mindfulness is the active state of being awake and conscious.  Simply put, it is having open attention on the present.  Being mindful means you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance without judging what is good or bad, but rather simply digesting it as “information.” Practicing Mindfulness allows you to be involved in your reality instead of letting your life pass you by. Mindfulness allows us to “live the moment” and awaken to the experience.

Sometimes people have the belief that they must be “masters” at emptying their minds, and thus try to keep from thinking anything negative when they are trying to be “mindful.”  But mindfulness is about letting EVERYTHING in without resisting… just noticing it.  Every time we try to resist something, there is a force or energy created, and it becomes stagnant –  remember “what we resist, persists.”  When you catch yourself judging a thought, action or idea, try viewing it as “information.”

  • An example of this is:  “I can’t believe how stupid I am… every time I am faced with this, I do the same damn thing.”  Try reframing it this way:  “When I am faced with this repeating situation, I have been reacting in the same way.”
  • Another kind of example: When you are eating food and doing something else at the same time, you can’t enjoy what you are eating.   Try this:  Stop whatever else you are doing and notice the shape, size, texture and taste of what you are eating.  Think about how it feels in your mouth, the flavor distinctions, and what you notice as you swallow.

Try this Mindfulness exercise: all you need to do is notice five things in your day that usually go unnoticed.  These could be things you hear, smell, feel or see. For example, you might see the color of a house, walls or furniture, hear the cars passing, people talking or birds chirping, feel the clothes on your skin or the weight of your body on the chair you are sitting in, or smell the air, of flowers, food, trees, wet dirt or other scents.  If you already do these things, try to be even more aware of them and the connections they have with you and your world.

So, What Do We Get from Mindfulness

Here are a few of the proven benefits of mindfulness meditation from the bookMindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Penman, Williams & Burch.

Practicing mindfulness helps :

  • Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation.  Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase.  In short, regular meditators are happier and more contented, while being far less likely to suffer from psychological distress.
  • Mindfulness can dramatically reduce pain and the emotional reaction to it. Recent trials suggest that average pain ‘unpleasantness’ levels can be reduced by 57 percent, while accomplished meditators report reductions of up to 93 percent.
  • Clinical trials show that mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and lower-back pain, in chronic functional disorders such as IBS, and in challenging medical illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and cancer.
  • Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds.  It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience.
  • Mindfulness reduces addictive and self-destructive behavior. These include the abuse of illegal and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol intake.

Integrating just a little more mindfulness each day in your life can bring dramatic rewards.  Practice a few times today and see what it can do for you.