What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been an integral part of the Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism, and has gained popularity in Western psychology in the recent years. Clinical research supports effectiveness of Mindfulness in reducing stress, enhancing psychological health, especially in anxiety and depression, increasing self-awareness, and handling painful thoughts or feelings in a better way.
Have you ever tried to observe your breath for a couple of minutes? This can be surprisingly challenging and even frustrating!
Indeed, left to itself, the mind wanders through all kinds of thoughts, including thoughts expressing anger, craving, depression, revenge, self-pity, etc. When we indulge in these kind of thoughts, we reinforce them, causing more suffering.
Mostly these thoughts are about the past or future. The past no longer exists. The future is just a fantasy until it happens. The only moment we can experience — the present moment — is actually where change and growth can happen.
“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”
– JON KABAT-ZINN
You are not your thoughts!
In mindfulness practices, we begin training our attention by noticing what is happening in the present moment. We observe our thoughts without fully identifying with them, and become aware of their changing nature.
Mindfulness is an emotionally non-reactive state. By realising that we are not our thoughts nneither our emotions, we start making conscious choices rather than having habitual reactions based on our past experiences (“auto-pilot mode”). The idea is not to control or suppress the thoughts, but rather hold them in awareness in a non-judgmental way.
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
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