Some people say it’s been around for centuries, yet it only seems to have been ‘fashionable’ for five minutes. Confused? So was I at first. Well don’t worry, in this article I’ll break it down for you and talk you through how it can be easy to incorporate it into your own lifestyle.
The ACTUAL Definition of Mindfulness
I thought the best place to start would be the good old dictionary. This is what it came up with for me:
A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique
Sort of makes sense doesn’t it? Or does it? How often have you said to yourself, ‘ok, I just want to sit and concentrate on reading this book’ or ‘I just want to spend 10 minutes enjoying this cup of tea’, only to find yourself distracted a couple of moments later by your phone or the mountain of washing that needs doing? It’s so much easier to be distracted by the things that cause us stress, than focus on the things that relax us.
How Long Has Mindfulness Actually Been Going On?
OK, So Why is it Suddenly Important Now?
In our current daily lives, we are constantly bombarded with information and stimuli. Our brains get overwhelmed with it all and that when we start to experience symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Basically, we can’t cope. This is often why we go into autopilot when we are doing repetitive tasks.
Back in the days before we had all this technology to distract ourselves, people would spend their evenings reading, sewing or playing games with the family. Mindfulness was done automatically, our brains did not wander so much. This is why it seems to have become ‘fashionable’. Society simply didn’t need to be taught how to be in the moment before.
It may be that we spend more time being exposed to more and more information, but this doesn’t mean we can’t train ourselves to be more present in the moment where possible. Actually it’s a skill we ALL have, it’s just we need to PRACTICE it. By just spending a couple of minutes each day to start with, it soon becomes part of everyday life. The best bit about it is, you don’t have to change your whole lifestyle to become more mindful. The hardest bit about mindfulness can be the acceptance of what is happening without judgement.
And for those of you who are scientifically minded, there is even evidence to prove that mindfulness works. People who practice it are less anxious, and have seen positive benefits to all sorts of aspects of their life.
A Few Myths
- It is not a religious practice. Although it is part of some religions, many Atheists and Agnostics practice it too.
- Mindfulness does not have to be complicated. There is no measure of success or failure, just the fact that you are making the conscious effort is enough.
- It does not take up a lot of time. You may actually find you are more productive after spending 5 minutes being mindful!
But how can you be mindful in your own life? I know we’ve all heard of meditating to plinky-plunky music, but are there more easy ways to be more mindful? Well, to get you going I have made the following question prompts for you to think about when you’re trying to be mindful. They should only take a few minutes to answer but your brain will thank you for the rest from all the stress.