by Khyati Kapur
I have a favorite author who has written several books recapping interviews with over two hundred world-class performers. The interviewees range from celebrities to iconic athletes, to special ops commanders, and biotech engineers. They are an eclectic group, with one common denominator, they are the elite in their chosen field. The author poses the same twelve questions to each guest, one of which is my favorite, “In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?” I was surprised that several of these incredibly busy people mentioned naps. But, the frequency of one response astounded me, nearly eighty-percent stated, “I now practice mindfulness.”
Some of those interviewed equated mindfulness with meditation; others practiced mindfulness on daily walks, while still others used breathing techniques to reach a state of mindfulness. So, just what is mindfulness? Why is it important to our overall health? And, how does it affect our relationships with others, our children?
In this article, we’ll provide definitions of mindfulness, discuss mindfulness versus meditation, suggest methods of practicing mindfulness, and articulate some of the health benefits, both physical and psychological.
A good working definition of mindfulness might be, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
A more clinical definition would include, ”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, sometimes used as a therapeutic technique.”
We all possess the ability to practice mindfulness regardless of which definition you find more appropriate. We simply need to learn and practice a technique that allows you to enter a mindful state. Continuing to remain present in the moment, however, requires awareness. You should be mindful of when your thoughts wander, when you begin to have negative feelings, or are being overly judgmental of yourself.
Here is a great phrase to help you enter a state of mindfulness that is incredibly easy to practice.
“Meditation is helping me to form all my other habits; it’s helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, more poised, more positive, less worried, more forgiving, more appreciative, and attentive to everything in my life. Meditation is helping me to come a long way every day.”
Then engage in some quiet time, check-in with how you’re feeling, concentrate on your breath. Develop a loving and forgiving attitude. Practice gratitude. Get to know yourself. Understand that whatever you’re feeling is entirely okay.
Mindfulness can be cultivated through other techniques; short pauses we insert into everyday life often-times seated, but also possible while walking, standing, and moving meditation. Some people find success merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga.
It is said that mindfulness and meditation are like mirror images. Mindfulness can support and enrich the meditative state. And, meditating helps nurture and expand our mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be present and aware of something, while meditation is the awareness of no-thing.
Why practice meditation? Research demonstrates that mindfulness has positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships. It can help with a variety of issues, such as trauma, anxiety, and depression. And, meditating has additional health benefits:
With practice, mindfulness can keep you more present in your life and teach you to observe your thoughts and feelings without being judgmental. It can you manage your emotions, make better decisions, and improve relationships with others.
Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do. Even a little every day can make your life better.
So, if we all possess the ability to practice mindfulness and research illustrates its many benefits, why not start today. Being more present in the moment, managing your emotions, and improving relationships with those you love are compelling reasons to adopt mindfulness. Make it the new belief, behavior, or habit that most improves your life.
And, while you’re at it, take time to teach your loved ones to be like Pooh and “take pleasure in every day and treat it as your favorite.”
by Khyati Kapur