What is mindfulness? You’ve likely heard of it, and have a rough ideas of what it is. It’s like awareness, right? Well, yes. Mindfulness is the state of being conscious and aware of everything that’s going on around us but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. True mindfulness is a relatively simple form of meditation that starts with breathing and focusing on the flow of air into and out of the body. Slowly, you expand your consciousness out to the world around you. You are no longer lost in your thoughts, nor are you consumed by them. You feel much more in control of yourself and much less like a train on a track that determines your reality. Psychology Today has a really great overview and tutorial on the subject of mindfulness.
Living in the moment
The 21st century is not conducive to mindfulness. Look up and down any busy high street and you’ll see people with their necks craned downward, lost in a stream of information from their smartphones. You’ll see people with their heads ringed by headphones which blare out the audial cues from the world around them. You’ll see people walking in straight lines, eyes fixed on a set point and oblivious to the world around them. This has become our default state and it’s also the best way to get hit crossing street. While you’re in this state it can be virtually impossible to remember what happened in the event of such an incident that could later help you to make a claim against a negligent driver. Practicing mindfulness gives us a far better awareness and appreciation of what is going on all around us, and that benefits our health and our lives in a number of different ways...
It makes stress management so much easier
The 21st century is a stressful place, and we need to take steps to ensure that we manage our stress and prevent it from manifesting in damaging or unhelpful ways. For many of us this is easier said than done. Plus, if we self medicate using alcohol or illicit substances this can only exacerbate the underlying causes of stress. Healthy diet plays a huge part in stress management but mindfulness can be extremely helpful too. Mindfulness allows us some perspective on our thoughts, much like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It can prevent our stress from distorting our perception of the world around us.
It aids dealing with illness
When we’re living with a long term medical condition, practicing mindfulness can make dealing with it all the more manageable. It can mitigate the emotional effects of long term illness and help to facilitate post traumatic recovery. A 2017 study of Chinese breast cancer patients showed that mindfulness meditation played a key part in helping survivors get over the trauma of their experience.
It can even keep depression at bay
Depression is a serious condition which affects over 300 million people around the world. Depression has a way of taking the color out of life and robbing us of the joy that we used to get from life by tainting our thoughts and experiences. Mindfulness helps us to master our thoughts and put them in their proper perspective, meaning that we are less prone to harmful thoughts.
Try mindfulness meditation today. It only need take a few minutes and it could literally change your life.